PHILLIP Island Nature Parks are proud to have been named the winners of the Distinction in Biodiversity and Ecosystem Conservation category in the Victorian Marine and Coastal Awards in an online ceremony held on Friday, November 20.

The application for the professional agencies, large organisations and industry section, titled ‘Seals as Ecosystem Sentinels’, described the important project that aimed to understand changes in the marine ecosystem that impacted on Australian Fur Seals.

“As marine predators at the top of the food chain, seals illustrate environmental changes and are easily sampled by researchers because they come ashore in high numbers and have a synchronised annual breeding season,” Dr Rebecca McIntosh said.

Dr McIntosh, a Phillip Island Nature Parks marine scientist, led the award-winning project team.

Key highlights of the project included the use of drones to monitor the seal colony and partnering with community and industry to collect data on population numbers through programs such as the online ‘SealSpotter’ Challenge and putting bins on boats to reduce the number of seals entangled in marine debris.

The innovative approaches used in the project represented how innovation and collaboration could reduce human impact on the seal colony and enable managers to quickly detect and respond to changes.

 

Other winners

 

Gippsland Ports were named the winners of the Excellence in Marine and Coastal Design or Development category for the Port Welshpool Long Jetty.

And the Yarram Yarram Landcare Network took out the Distinction in Biodiversity and Ecosystem Conservation category under community volunteer groups/individuals for the Corner Inlet Broadleaf Seagrass Restoration Project.