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Great Australian Bight Ecosystem Study

Great Australian Bight

'We have to know what is there and understand how the ocean system works in that region to be able to predict and measure any environmental impact resulting from development'


BP, CSIRO, SARDI, the University of Adelaide and Flinders University are undertaking a major four year collaborative research program in the Great Australian Bight to gain a greater understanding of this unique marine territory.  This will improve understanding of the environmental, economic and social value of the Great Australian Bight.


The Great Australian Bight is a unique marine environment. Over 85 percent of known species in the region are found nowhere else in the world.

The region also supports Australia's largest commercial fishery, the South Australian Sardine Fishery, and is a significant tourist destination.

The region has been identified as prospective for oil and gas, an important Australian industry. In 2011, BP was granted exlopration rights in the Bight and has chosen to collaborate with some of Australia's pre-eminent science instiutions to enhance everyone's understanding of this vast expanse of ocean and its surrounds.

The science and industry collaboration is delivering one of the largest whole-of-ecosystem studies ever undertaken in Australia. More information about this unique marine territory will inform decision makers and ensure that future developments co-exist with the Bight's environment, industries and the community.

Partnership with industry

Despite the vast majority of our oil production currently coming from offshore Australia, our nation's deep sea remains relatively unexplored and there is significant potential for new resources to be found in deepwater frontier basins such as the Great Australian Bight. This research program is a unique approach, forged between industry and science to increase current understanding of the Great Australian Bight for the benefit of all stakeholders.

By applying the learnings from one of the largest whole-of-ecosystem research programs ever undertaken in Australia we will have better informed industry, regulators and government.

Sharing the knowledge 

The collaboration joins together Australia's national science agency, CSIRO and SARDI, the University of Adelaide and Flinders University, who are partners in South Australia's premier research partnership, Marine Innovation Southern Australia (MISA), and along with BP, a global company that finds, produces and markets the natural energy resources on which our world depends.

It is critical for Australia's research institutions to be involved with industry partners: the research results will be made available for the benefit of other stakeholders, such as Commonwealth and State regulators, governments and a diverse range of research, community and environment groups through publication in science journals, literature and published reports.

Integration and modelling

The research data obtained will provide a quantitative model of the structure and dynamics of the Great Australian Bight region ecosystem, which will be used to inform a qualitative risk assessment and integrated into ecosystem models that can be used to conduct more informed and refined ecological risk assessments for future develoment activities that may be conducted in the Bight.

Research themes

The research program brings together multidisciplinary research teams organised around seven research themes.

The oceanography, ecology, and geochemistry of the Bight will be studied together with socio-economic research on communities and business dependent on the region.

The aim of the program is to help balance human activity and sustainability; to ensure future developments co-exist with the area's environment, industries and the community.

Great Australian Bight Research Program fact sheet (PDF 727KB)

The Great Australian Bight Research Program is a collaboration between BP, CSIRO, the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI), the University of Adelaide, and Flinders University.

Great Australian Bight Research Program partners