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The University of Western Australia


Hugh Kirkman has more than 37 years of marine research experience. He is a world authority on seagrass ecology and biology and completed a Ph.D. on seaweed. He has published 44 scientific papers in international journals, nine book chapters and nearly 50 reports. He has experience in marine systems and processes throughout Australia and has worked in many overseas countries. His scientific flexibility is reflected by his having published a number of papers on fauna in seagrasses, physiology in seaweeds and a proposal for growing trees in treated sewage. He also co-authored a paper on the effects of megacities on the marine environment and a review of the UNEP Regional Seas Programme. Kirkman mapped the southern half of Australia’s underwater features around the coast at a scale of 1:100,000. This work is of great interest to the states in their choices of marine protected areas and in planning harbours, marinas and granting fish farming licences, the maps were also used in oil spill contingency plans. He collaborated with a number of state agencies in this work and has wide experience in classifying coastlines and beaches in southern Australia. He became an Australian authority on remote sensing of underwater habitats. He led the CSIRO Marine and Estuarine Eutrophication Project for the Division of Fisheries at Marmion, Western Australia and has a wide knowledge of eutrophication problems in Australia. He was seconded to EPA Western Australia in 1989 for six months to work on seagrass policies and problems and collaborated with EPA, WA on concepts for management of marine ecosystems. Hugh Kirkman has experience in communicating his findings to all groups in society. He has presented his work at international conferences and been contracted to NOAA, USA to advise a US Select Committee on seagrass restoration. He has delivered talks at schools and to community groups on his scientific work. His interests lie in management of marine resources, sustaining community-based marine resources and building long-term databases suitable for assisting management with sustaining those resources. The establishment of marine protected areas is a priority in his work with mapping underwater habitats. From 1998 until 2003 he was the coordinator of the UNEP East Asian Seas Regional Coordinating Unit stationed in Bangkok. He began with the task of developing a long-term plan for the regional seas programme which was endorsed by member countries when complete. His efforts found funding for conservation of coral reefs and prevention of land-based pollution from entering the sea. He was called upon to give keynote talks on mangrove, coral reef and seagrass habitats. He led a team that sought and later obtained $US 32 million from the Global Environment Facility for the project "Reversing Environmental Degradation Trends in the South China Sea and Gulf of Thailand". In 2010 he completed the Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis for seagrass, mangroves and coral reefs in the Bay of Bengal Large Marine Ecosystem for FAO and GEF. He was called upon as an expert for marine environmental issues in East Asian Seas and has experience with national and international agencies throughout the region. He initiated and prepared a proposal to the Swedish International Development Co-operation Agency (SIDA) for about $400,000 which was funded. Kirkman has been called on by state governments to review consulting reports and comment on issues relating to his expertise. advised on seagrass restoration and presented plans for seagrass monitoring, evaluation and reporting he advised governments on Environmental Impact Statements and for six years was on the Scientific Working Group for South Australian Representative System of Marine Protected Areas. He was a professional editor working part-time for a firm that edits journal papers for authors with English as a second language. He has more than 6,000 h underwater SCUBA experience and represented scientific diving in Australia at Standards Australia for four years. He had a position on the Review Board for the Port of Melbourne Dredging Project, one of Australia’s largest dredging projects. His suggestion and practical implementation of seagrass and kelp shading experiments for the Supplementary Environmental Effects Statement for the dredging project enabled it to pass government scrutiny. He later supervised experiments that gave a definitive time for dredging to run in Port Phillip Bay. Kirkman was on the Northern Territory Government Commonwealth Government mandated panel for overseeing the environmental monitoring and triggers for channel dredging in Darwin Harbour as part of the INPEX gas port. His knowledge of marine environmental agreements and conventions was called upon to review Multilateral Environmental Agreements with a view to passing on Australia’s ability to implement its MEAs. He developed a Strategic Plan for the South East Asian Global Ocean Observing System (SEA GOOS) and worked on project proposals for IOC/WESTPAC. He completed a contract with Fauna and Flora International to review the global use of large marine management areas. This report compared Seascapes, Marine Bioregions, Large Marine Ecosystems, Regional Seas Programmes and Integrated Coastal Zone Management used in developing countries. His east Asian experience was recognized when he was invited as a guest speaker to attend and supported by PEMSEA in two EAS Congresses and was supported by the Nippon Foundation and Kyoto University to attend and present a paper at an ICM symposium in Kyoto. He helped complete guidelines for Transboundary Marine Spatial Management for APEC, with a Malaysian consultant. This was followed by being the key-note speaker at a workshop for APEC on Spatial Marine and Coastal Management in Xiamen and he was invited to a workshop in Bangkok for experts on marine environmental issues in the South China Sea. He reviewed mangrove planting and restoration in Western Port Bay for the WP Seagrass Partnership and prepared a report on the effects of increasing the size of the Port of Hastings in Western Port. He prepared, with others, the definitive document on legislation and policy protecting Australia’s mangrove and salt marsh in Australia He was recently invited to be on a select group to review Marine Protected Areas in Australia. Recently he spent two weeks in Guangxi Mangrove Research Centre on the invitation of its director advising on seagrass research programs and assisting students with their research. He attended on invitation the UNESCO Conference on Marine Spatial Planning and has taken a keen interest in this in Australia.

Research Interest

Marine Research, Sea grass Ecology and Biology, Seaweed, Marine Environment, Underwater Features, Marine and Estuarine Eutrophication, Seagrass Restoration.