For a fairer future
Our vision is a society that values all people and natural ecosystems.
We will achieve this by uplifting communities, advancing gender and equality, protecting the ocean whilst still responding to emerging challenges.
Our focus areas
Gender and equality
Who we are
Minderoo Foundation takes on tough, persistent issues with the potential to drive massive change.
Andrew and Nicola Forrest founded Minderoo Foundation in 2001, and continue to drive its philanthropic mission today.
We incubate ideas, advocate for systems change and accelerate impact. We push the limits of what is believed possible.
Minderoo Foundation is proudly Australian, independent, forward thinking and seeks effective, scalable solutions.
Through bold, collaborative and selfless action, we must dismantle the systems that entrench inequality.
Together we collaborate, advocate, innovate, fight and act for a fairer future.
Chairman and Founder
Dr Andrew Forrest, AO PhD
Co-Chair and Founder
Nicola Forrest, AO
Allan Myers, AC KC
Andrew Liveris, AO
Maria Myers, AC
Chief Executive Officer
Oceans Executive Director (Acting)
Impact Missions Executive Director
Impact Missions Executive Director
Gender & Equality
Jacqueline Joudo Larsen
Strategy & Operations
Advocacy & Engagement
People & Culture
All of equal importance, our values are the core threads that tightly weave us together. Ingrained in the fabric and character of our Foundation and anyone who represents us, they continuously challenge and inspire us to do better.
This value is inherent within all our values and must be present in all our actions. Recognise that in the end, no matter what position you are in, in the eyes of God you are no more – nor less – valuable than anyone else. Be vulnerable, take the risk to fully trust others. Give them the credit wherever possible. Build others up and put them first wherever you can. If you are a leader and you give the impression you are the smartest person in the room, you have failed as a leader, as this will not encourage others. Offer help to those around you, as even the smallest gestures can make a big difference to someone’s day.
When times are tough, and they often are when aiming for Stretch Targets, don’t give up or lower the targets, instead ask for help. Own your challenge but join your leaders in solving the problem – delegate up not down. You have the complete confidence and belief of your team that you can achieve what others cannot fathom.
Go to your leader for advice, not permission. A leader is only as good as the team they surround themselves with, and that’s where empowerment comes into its own. A leader should not consider themselves often a decision maker, but primarily as a mentor to their fully empowered team. Leaders must clearly articulate the Stretch Target, then encourage and empower their team to achieve it. You have great empowerment to act and take risk when acting within all our values. Be innovative, no matter your role. Don’t be afraid to share your ideas with others. Seek and be open to feedback and you will never fail alone. Take a considered risk with a Plan B, and you will keep growing throughout your career.
Be the most positive and energetic person in every group you join. Encourage others, particularly in failure. Know that out of every setback is the seed to equal or greater opportunity, you just have to find it. Your natural instinct must always be to be encouraging and kind.
Forgive and support each other, and always be kind. Be brave and vulnerable in your relationships. In times of conflict, pick up the phone or meet in person to resolve matters. Be compassionate and reach out personally to team members who appear to be struggling or upset. Provide praise proudly in public, and critical feedback in private and in person whenever possible. Always be loyal to one another, and in doing so never compromise safety or the organisation. Treat others how you hope to be treated yourself. Always demonstrate respect and embrace differences in others.
Find ways to do things better, faster, safer, and always less expensive. If you really try you will find the pathway to save money, save time, reduce schedules and increase value. Always prepare ahead for meetings so you can keep them efficient and as short as possible. Be frugal with your time – it is the most precious resource you have in life.
Seemingly crazy ideas can change you, your company, and the world. Have a crack at a brave and crazy idea – your Plan A – but always protect us with a bulletproof Plan B. Plan As often fail, and that’s OK, but not if you don’t have a totally reliable Plan B already in place. Be unafraid to speak up, and if you are the one listening and have an old war story that might kill an idea, stay silent and remember – if at first an idea doesn’t seem crazy, it’s unlikely to be a great idea.
All values are critical and must be accepted wholeheartedly – they are not a smorgasbord. Have the courage to speak up when you see others stray from our values. Be genuine, always – say what you mean, mean what you say. We act with integrity when we display all values, all the time. Remember the bathroom principal of life, always leave it tidier than you found it, being the best person you can be.
This is common sense, first and foremost. Look out for your mates and yourself. Be responsible for not only your own safety, but theirs too. It’s how you put love into action. Plan for their wellbeing, and for yours.
The most driving value of all. Always be uncomfortable with your level of challenge. Be in the deep end of the pool, learning to swim, as much as you can. If an initial target is attainable, reset it out of reach and follow all our values to achieve it. Your bulletproof Plan B will protect us. Never hesitate to reach out for help and delegate up when confusion or insurmountable challenges appear. You will only ever fail if you do so alone and don’t give your family an opportunity to help. Whether you have succeeded in Plan A, or caught its failure with your Plan B, you have succeeded – you have learnt and therefore grown in your career. Remember, while it is always your personal journey, we are all here to help you. As a team. As a family.
Policies and governance
Andrew and Nicola Forrest founded Minderoo Foundation in 2001, and continue to drive its philanthropic mission today.
We take our name from Minderoo Station, the family homestead where Andrew grew up in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. It has been a part of the Forrest family since 1878. Minderoo is an Aboriginal word meaning permanent and clean water.
Founder, Minderoo Foundation; Executive Chairman of Fortescue; Director, Tattarang Group
Dr Andrew Forrest AO is a global business leader and philanthropist. Through Minderoo Foundation, Tattarang and Fortescue, Dr Forrest is dedicated to leading the world to address the climate crisis and step beyond fossil fuels through green metals and green energy.
While he believes some challenges (for example, global warming) can only be met through business, led by responsible government, Minderoo Foundation focuses on radical solutions to human rights, ocean health, Indigenous disparity and equality for women and girls. Minderoo’s endowment now exceeds AU$7.6 billion.
In 2022, Dr Forrest committed US$500 million to the official Ukraine Development Fund to kickstart post-war reconstruction. Minderoo Foundation has also contributed US$8 million, including funding Ukraine’s first humanitarian grain shipment in August 2022 and providing grain storage facilities. In addition, Minderoo has supplied 170 power generators to Ukraine.
Dr Forrest has a PhD in marine ecology, serves as an IUCN Patron of Nature and was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia for distinguished service to philanthropy, mining, employment and sustainable foreign investment.
In 2016, he served as a councillor of the Global Citizen Commission, which was charged by the UN to modernise the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In 2013, Dr Forrest was appointed by the Australian Government to lead the country’s response to tackling indigenous disparity – the resultant Forrest Review was published in 2014.
Founder, Minderoo Foundation; Director, Tattarang Group
With an enduring motivation to better the lives of children and a commitment to give a voice to those most vulnerable, Nicola Forrest AO believes in empowering individuals to better themselves and their communities.
Since 2001, as Founder and Co-Chair of Minderoo Foundation, Nicola has established and driven programs of work to create positive change for children, the arts, women and communities. Nicola’s contribution has seen her recognised as an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO), awarded the University of Canberra Chancellor’s Award for Philanthropy and invited to chair a working group on behalf of the Prime Minister of Australia to drive integration between the philanthropic, community and business sectors.
Under Nicola’s leadership, and in collaboration with partners in Australia and beyond, Minderoo Foundation has put an emphasis on data and research to identify and derive solutions to some of the world’s most intractable problems. She has also led the selection of world-class Scholars and Fellows, to study and reside in Western Australia within the Forrest Research Foundation – a hub for research innovation.
Nicola is Life Patron of the Black Swan State Theatre Company shoring up the company’s sustainability through the establishment of its inaugural Production Fund. As patron of the Kimberley Foundation Australia, Impact 100 WA and Sculpture by the Sea, Nicola champions arts, culture and community initiatives that better the lives of those most vulnerable.
Uplifting child and community wellbeing through place-based approaches, arts and culture and early years solutions.
Opportunity and disadvantage are not evenly distributed. They are predetermined from conception and are intergenerational, concentrated in particular places, and exacerbated by many social factors.
Often, those that are most disadvantaged are our First Nations people. By reimagining our approach to the early years and empowering community decision making, these cycles of disadvantage can be broken and a new trajectory can be charted.
Community agency and belonging
Communities are cohesive, collaborative and thriving places, with the power to make decisions and direct resources to solutions that best address their needs.
Early childhood development
All children between the ages of 0-5 have the ability to develop and learn, so they can reach their full potential and contribute to a better future for their communities.
Safety and economic security
Families have access to critical resources for a safe and secure home environment, giving children between the ages of 0-5 the opportunity to thrive.
Gender and Equality
Unleashing the potential of humanity through equality for women and girls.
Women and girls represent half of the world’s population. By denying women and girls equal rights and meaningful inclusion, we are denying the achievement of our goals and ultimately wasting our collective potential.
While Minderoo Foundation considers the gendered impacts of all the problems we seek to solve, we believe a discrete focus on women and girls is required to break down the structural barriers that perpetuate many of these issues.
Equal voice and agency
Women and girls have equal influence in decision making, as well as equal access to financial resources.
Freedom from slavery
Women and girls are not disproportionately affected by modern slavery, and modern slavery is eradicated in all its forms.
Returning the ocean to a healthy state, free from pollution and safeguarded for future generations.
The ocean is a vital ecosystem that plays a crucial role in sustaining life on Earth.
Despite its importance, the ocean is facing unprecedented threats, leading to the rapid degradation of marine environments compromising the health and wellbeing of communities that depend on them.
Sustainable ocean economy
Human activities in the ocean are ethical, sustainable, and do not compromise the health of marine environments.
Protect and restore ocean ecosystems
Biodiversity is preserved for future generations to enjoy, resilient to the impacts of climate change.
Stop plastic pollution
Marine plastic pollution is reduced to zero through a comprehensive life-cycle approach to plastic management.
Responding to urgent societal challenges and threats aligned with areas of our Founders’ interest.
The pace of global transformation is unprecedented, and with it comes an ever-present need to respond to emerging challenges and threats that affect our collective wellbeing.
Impact Missions are an important part of Minderoo Foundation’s response to shaping a fairer future.
By tackling urgent societal challenges and threats with speed, adaptability, and clear impact goals, we can make a significant difference in the lives of individuals and communities worldwide.
Our impact missions
Australia’s largest employers are committed, empowered and accountable to achieving employment parity for First Nations people.
Australian First Nations entrepreneurs have the connections, capability and access to capital to become investor-ready.
Reimagine how advancements in data and technology impact cancer research.
Fire and Flood
Develop an Australia that is resilient to fire and flood.
Facilitate global dialogue and support policies for greater public safety and government accountability for AI.
Respond to global or national crises that require urgent action.
Resources & Publications
Mending the Net
Strengthening Australia’s import policies to combat illegal seafood.
Did you know that 65 per cent of the seafood Australians eat comes from overseas, particularly from countries with poor track records on illegal fishing, overfishing, modern slavery and unsustainable practices? The Mending the Net report shows how Australia’s poor import controls mean this seafood might be ending up on your plate.
Stop Plastic Pollution
Reducing marine plastic pollution to zero through a comprehensive life-cycle approach to plastic management.
Exmouth Research Lab
The Minderoo Foundation Exmouth Research Lab provides scientists with state-of-the-art facilities enabling high quality, high-impact marine research, on the doorstep of the World Heritage listed Ningaloo Reef.
Resilient Communities Framework
The Resilient Communities Framework is a guide that covers the principles of effective community engagement to build disaster resilience. It also contains tools for resilience practitioners, community leaders, policymakers and funders to support resilience-building efforts across sectors.
Mislabelling restricts consumer choices for sustainable seafood
A landmark national study to determine the scale of seafood mislabelling in Australia has found more than one in 10 seafood products tested did not match the label.
Indigenous Employment Index
Plastic Waste Makers Index
More plastic. More waste. More pollution.
There is more single-use plastic waste than ever before (139 million tonnes in 2021).
Despite rising consumer awareness, corporate attention, and regulation, an additional 6 million metric tons (MMT) of waste was generated in 2021 compared to 2019 — still almost entirely made from fossil fuel-based “virgin” feedstocks.
Meanwhile, the top 20 list of petrochemical companies producing virgin polymers bound for single-use plastic remains effectively unchanged. While global capacity to produce these polymers is expected grow slower than the historical rate (2.7 per cent CAGR in 2021-27 vs 3.9 per cent in 2005-20), this still equates to an additional 60 MMT by 2027, of which we expect 17 MMT to be bound for single-use plastics.
Single-use plastic is not only a pollution crisis but also a climate one.
Cradle-to-grave greenhouse gas emissions from single-use plastics in 2021 were equivalent to the total emissions of the United Kingdom (460 million tonnes CO2e).
Most emissions are produced by the oil and gas and petrochemical industries in the “upstream” part of the lifecycle. Mechanical recycling reduces cradle-to-grave emissions by at least 30 to 40 per cent compared to producing polymers from fossil fuels by avoiding upstream emissions. While the emissions reduction opportunities from recycling are significant, they can only be part of the solution towards a net zero plastics economy.
Recycling is failing to scale fast enough and remains a marginal activity for the plastics sector.
Only strong regulatory intervention can solve what amounts to market failure.
From 2019-21, growth in single-use plastics made from virgin polymers was 15 times that from recycled feedstocks. Petrochemical companies are (naturally) only expanding into recycling in markets where the economic conditions are (somewhat) more favourable. These are markets where policies are more progressive and demand for recycled plastics is stronger. However, across all polymers and technologies, only 3 MMT of additional on par recycling capacity is expected to be brought online by 2027 (0.7 MMT by the petrochemical industry).
Within the petrochemical industry, there are two outliers making strong commitments to recycling and producing recycled polymers at scale.
In addition to these commitments, Far Eastern New Century (FENC) and Indorama Ventures are also now producing on par recycled polymers at scale.
A further eight companies have recently set ambitious 2030 recycled polymer targets of at least 20 per cent of production. Compared to the first edition of the Index, we see signs that the industry in general is taking circularity more seriously, but this will only amount to “greenwashing” if words are not backed up by action and investment.
More plastic, more waste and more pollution.
They’re shocking findings, but they’re the results of this second edition of the Plastic Waste Makers Index. For the petrochemical industry to argue otherwise is greenwashing of the highest order. We need a fundamentally different approach, that turns the tap off on new plastic production. We need a “polymer premium” on every kilogram of plastic polymer made from fossil fuel.”
– DR ANDREW FORREST AO, CHAIRMAN, MINDEROO FOUNDATION
Three big interventions would deliver a step change in single-use plastic waste and associated greenhouse gas emissions.
Limit fossil fuel plastic production and consumption.
Include Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions from plastic polymers in net zero climate targets and strategies.
Actively engage with investees (or use voting rights) to stop the building of new fossil fuel-based polymer facilities, or divest.
Put a levy on fossil-fuel polymer production and/or consumption to generate funds for scaling plastics collection, sorting and recycling infrastructure.
Other companies in the value chain
Set clear corporate targets to reduce virgin plastic consumption — e.g., through EMF/UN’s Global Commitment — and lend public support to policy measures with this objective.
Increase plastic products and materials that are designed for circularity and are circulated in practice.
Set a minimum 20 per cent target by 2030 for recycled vs fossil fuel feedstock in polymer production.
Demand clear, ambitious and time-bound targets for recycled vs fossil fuel feedstock in polymer production from every producer.
Set target on overall plastic material circularity — i.e., combined mass of re-used, recycled, and sustainable plastics put on the market — including 20 per cent minimum recycled content standards for all single-use plastics by 2030.
Other companies in the value chain
Create certainty for greater investment in recycling by entering into long-term forward contracts for recycled plastics at fixed and fair prices.
Eliminate plastic leakage to the environment across the lifecycle through environmentally sound waste management.
Invest in or partner with plastic waste collection, sorting and recycling systems and capacities, with a focus on high-leakage countries.
Lend public support for policies that will create economic conditions for more investment in plastics collection, sorting and recycling (e.g., through the Business Coalition for a Global Plastics Treaty).
Under the global plastics treaty, create a fund to support waste management systems in countries most impacted by plastic pollution (following the example of COP27’s Loss and Damage Fund).
Other companies in the value chain
Harmonise design standards for safe plastics use (including chemical additives), disposal and recyclability.
Plastic Waste Makers Index 2023
Download the full PDF of the Plastic Waste Makers Index 2023.
Plastic Waste Makers Index 2023 : Full dataset
Download the full dataset for the Plastic Waste Makers Index 2023.
The download and use of this resource is bound by a content licence. Please read the licence and fill out the form below.
Basis of Preparation (2023)
Download this document outlining the steps taken to complete each analysis.
KPMG Independent Limited Assurance (2023)
Download the Independent Limited Assurance report prepared by KPMG Australia.
Plastic Waste Makers Index 2021: Revealing the source of the single-use plastics crisis
Download the full PDF of the Plastic Waste Makers Index 2021.
Basis of Preparation (2021)
Download this document outlining the steps taken to complete each analysis.
KPMG Independent Limited Assurance (2021)
Download the Independent Limited Assurance report prepared by KPMG Australia.
Indigenous Employment Index
“I love my job. I love everything I do even that gives me grey hair and keeps me up at night. I wouldn’t change what I do. It gives me tears. It gives me frustration. It fills me with joy. It fills me with anger, fills me with pride, fills me with passion. Everything that I could ever want in a job.” [Indigenous employee]
Of Australia’s total workforce represented
Represented employees or 5 per cent of Australia’s workforce
Employers participated across Australia
Individuals interviewed, of whom 71 per cent are Indigenous
Today, Indigenous Australians remain vastly under-represented or excluded from the workforce. As of 2018, less than half (49.1 per cent) of working age Indigenous Australians were in some form of employment, compared to 75.9 per cent for non-Indigenous Australians. Worryingly, that gap only closed by 1.3 per cent during the decade to 2018. Indigenous employment parity will only be achieved when Indigenous employees are present in the workforce in the same proportion as they are in the national population, at approximately 3.3 per cent. But ‘true’ parity extends beyond a single representation measure.
The Indigenous Employment Index 2022 is the first comprehensive snapshot of Indigenous workplace representation, practices, and employee experiences ever to be carried out in Australia. Together, the participating organisations employ more than 700,000 Australians; about five per cent of the total Australian workforce, and 17,412 Indigenous Australians; around six per cent of the Indigenous workforce.
This research finds that one-off measures to create Indigenous employment must give way to a more comprehensive and systemic approach. Authentic commitments, tailored strategies with targets, and a broader definition of Indigenous employment success are critical to better Indigenous employment outcomes. There is genuine commitment from participating organisations to Indigenous employment, and progress is being made, as recognised by many interview participants. There is still much work to be done, however, to improve the attraction, retention, and progression of Indigenous employees, while creating culturally safe and inclusive environments where all employees can thrive.
Consider participating in the next Indigenous Employment Index.
“I love my job. I love everything I do even that gives me grey hair and keeps me up at night. I wouldn’t change what I do. It gives me tears. It gives me frustration. It fills me with joy. It fills me with anger, fills me with pride, fills me with passion. Everything that I could ever want in a job.” [Indigenous employee]
We find that just 5 per cent of participating employers fall into the highest performing category in terms of Indigenous employment practices and outcomes, whereas almost a third (28 per cent) fall into the lowest performing group, and half (55 per cent) fall into the “Growth” category.
The mean Indigenous employment rate across surveyed employers is 2.2%, ranging from 0.17% to 10.9%.
Considering a parity target of 3.3 per cent, this is promising progress. However, the Indigenous Employment Index reveals almost all employers have substantial room to improve on their Indigenous employment practices and outcomes. Only two of the 42 employers fell into the highest performing category in this Index, with almost a third in the lowest performing category.
Employers are failing to retain Indigenous employees at the same rate as non-Indigenous employees, and often prioritise recruitment over employee retention and development.
Only half of participating employers collect Indigenous retention data, of which the majority (62 per cent) reported lower retention of Indigenous employees compared to the rest of their workforce. In addition, over a third of the 42 participating employers do not provide any Indigenous-specific development opportunities.
“If we develop our own from the ground up, they’re more likely to stay”
76% of employers have Indigenous employment targets, of which only 67% report regularly on progress. organisations that reported regularly on progress had more than double the share of Indigenous employees than those that did not.
Indigenous employment targets are critical in driving employment outcomes, and must be complemented by a comprehensive strategy that addresses the full employee lifecycle. Reporting progress towards targets is associated with statistically significant better outcomes, demonstrating that simply having a plan or a target is not enough.
Indigenous employees are almost entirely absent from senior management and executive leadership levels.
Indigenous representation at senior leadership levels was just 0.7 per cent among 31 employers that reported the relevant data. Indigenous senior leadership is critical to elevating Indigenous voices and perspectives and supporting Indigenous employees. Organisations with reconciliation strategies or plans led by Indigenous leaders had more than double the share of Indigenous employees.
“When you don’t see yourself in your leaders, it’s hard, it’s a battle”
Racism against indigenous employees is common in the workplace, with over 50% of indigenous interviewees reporting direct or indirect racism currently and throughout their careers.
Consistent with findings from other research, many Indigenous employees feel culturally unsafe at work, meaning they cannot practice their cultural identity without discrimination, ridicule or denunciation. Employers have low levels of understanding of racism, and how to appropriately respond to it.
Eighty-one per cent of participating employers are involved in education-related programs or partnerships to attract and retain indigenous employees.
Pathway programs such as these can help Indigenous Australians transition from education or training into employment, and also help tailor employee skills and experience to meet organisational needs. Many Indigenous employees believe the best way to build an Indigenous workforce is by starting engagement in schools.
Call to action
“I was just a kid from the scrub and now I’m working for a global company. It blows my mind a bit and it really put me on a good career path.” [Indigenous employee]
We are calling for immediate action from employers, governments and investors to help end Indigenous employment disparity.
We are calling on executive leaders in all Australia based organisations to:
Set robust indigenous employment targets and report regularly and transparently on progress towards them, to measure the effectiveness of your indigenous employment strategy.
Work to retain current indigenous employees, rather than focusing only on indigenous recruitment.
Treat racism as a safety issue and acknowledge that work is still required to ensure that your workplace is culturally safe for indigenous employees.
Follow this index’s employer roadmap to take the next steps towards employment parity, tailored to your organisation.
We are calling on the federal government to:
Regularly compile and publish data to comprehensively report on the state of indigenous employment nationally.
Activate industry to help close the indigenous employment gap through legislation.
Prioritise building an indigenous community-controlled employment sector.
We are calling on all institutional investors to:
Understand the investment risk caused by poor company culture and racism, and the fact that more diverse companies are likely to outperform less diverse companies.
Evaluate current investee companies and consider indigenous employment performance when making investments.
Engage with investee companies and set expectations.
Indigenous employment parity is achievable in our generation but requires approximately 300,000 more Indigenous Australians to enter paid work by 2040.
This is our responsibility, and our opportunity to take.
What impact will your organisation make?
“The cultural differences make it a lot more work. And the education system around amalgamating the two cultures together… It’s the openness and the mindset of people that needs to be enhanced to better understand and work together.” [Indigenous employee]
42 Australian organisations contributed to the Indigenous Employment Index, with all organisations completing a detailed survey.
Advanced Personnel Management
Australian Red Cross
Australian Unity Limited
Compass Group (Australia)
Domino’s Pizza Enterprises
Downer Group EDI
Fortescue Metals Group
Goodstart Early Learning
Jones Lang LaSalle – JLL
NSW Department of Communities and Justice
NSW South Eastern Sydney Local Health District
Silver Chain Group
St John of God Health Care
The Star Entertainment Group
Transport for NSW
University of Melbourne
WA Department of Health
WA Police Force
Employer Roadmap Tool
Indigenous Employment Index
Woort Koorliny: Australian Indigenous Employment Index 2022
The 2022 Indigenous Employment Index is an Australian-first assessment of Indigenous workplace representation, practices, and employee experiences.
List of Indigenous Employment Index employer questions.
Protocol for interviewer’s responses to emotional distress expressed by interviewees during interview.
Employees Interview Questions
List of interview questions asked of participating employees.
Line Managers Interview Questions
List of interview questions asked of participating line managers.
Executive Interview Questions
List of interview questions asked of participating executives.
Focus Group Guide
Guide for interviewers in conducting the focus groups.
Revolutionising marine conservation by unravelling the ocean genome.
Ocean: the continuous body of salt water that covers more than 70 per cent of the Earth’s surface.
Omics: novel, comprehensive approaches for analysis of genetic or molecular profiles.
The ocean is in the midst of a biodiversity crisis
We’ve seen a rapid decline in ocean biodiversity from the cumulative effects of unsustainable fishing practices, rising seawater temperatures, ocean acidification, the expansion of oxygen minimum zones, pollution and eutrophication of coastal habitats.
As a result, thousands of marine species are considered endangered and extinction rates have accelerated in the past century. Addressing this crisis is one of the most challenging tasks of our time.
Cataloguing marine biodiversity and describing ecological patterns that shape our understanding of species’ distribution and evolution is fundamental to conservation. Ocean-scale, high-quality data generated by ground-breaking technologies, integrated by multi-disciplinary thinkers, and well communicated to policymakers, are required to arrest marine biodiversity loss before it is too late.
Genomics and artificial intelligence (AI) are technologies that have the potential to transform ocean conservation. Minderoo Foundation’s OceanOmics program is advancing marine genomics and computational technologies and approaches with the aim to improve knowledge through monitoring programs that inform how we combat threats to ocean health.
Research using eDNA, marine genomics and AI
Nucleic acids (DNA and RNA) are the architectural blueprints for all life on Earth. Capturing and analysing these blueprints from pieces of DNA or cells found in the environment with genomic tools is the study of environmental DNA (eDNA).
We believe eDNA-based marine genomics and AI can form the technological basis for innovations that will revolutionise how we measure, understand, and ultimately protect life in the ocean.
By developing and deploying these technologies we will characterise and monitor marine wildlife at a pace and level of precision that traditional survey methods cannot achieve.
We have equipped the research vessel, Pangaea Ocean Explorer, with shipboard laboratories containing cutting-edge cellular and molecular biology equipment, including high throughput DNA sequencing instruments and bioinformatics workstations.
We are investing in building and openly publishing the reference libraries for marine vertebrates which are necessary to accurately detect, monitor and determine the health of these species.
Key Focus Areas
Our goal is to use eDNA approaches to more accurately monitor life in the global ocean. With an initial focus on the continental Australian Commonwealth marine estate, the Pangaea Ocean Explorer has already embarked on eight voyages, enabling sample collection and onboard genomic analyses for population-scale monitoring of the health of Australia’s ocean wildlife.
Samples of eDNA were collected and analysed from Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and Ningaloo Reef, as well as from the unique marine ecosystems of the Abrolhos Islands, the underwater canyon system of the Perth Canyon, and the nearshore waters off the south-west coast of Western Australia.
Contributing valuable evidence to support conservation and protection
The OceanOmics program supports the goal of conserving 30 per cent of the world’s ocean by 2030 by fostering novel methods for monitoring and combating threats to marine wildlife and ecosystems; quantifying the health status of current marine protected areas (MPAs); and assisting governments and management agencies in identifying new biodiversity hotspots and ecosystems in need of protection.
Generating reference genomes for thousands of marine species
To characterise marine biodiversity based on eDNA we require a library of references. That way, we can look up the snippets of DNA found in seawater and identify all the species present in our samples, similar to a dictionary. Unfortunately, to date only one per cent of the 20,000 known species of marine fish have had their genome sequenced. In collaboration with our global partners, one of OceanOmics’ ambitious goals is to generate and release to the public the reference genomic resources for thousands of marine species; and by doing so empower conservation science.
SCIENTIFIC ADVISORY PANEL
To support and steer this important work, Minderoo Foundation collaborates with leading experts in an array of marine genomics, AI and conservation fields from the USA, Europe, New Zealand, and Australia through the OceanOmics Scientific Advisory Panel.
- Professor Barbara Block, Hopkins Marine Station, Stanford University, United States
- Professor Michael Bunce, Institute of Environment Science and Research (ESR), New Zealand Crown Research Institute, New Zealand
- Professor Tom Gilbert, Centre for Evolutionary Hologenomics, GLOBE Institute, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
- Associate Professor Siavash Mirarab, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of California San Diego, United States
- Dr Ramunas Stepanauskas, Single Cell Genomics Center, Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, United States
eDNA sequencing datasets
The raw DNA sequencing reads of our expeditions are continuously uploaded to the Sequence Read Archive (SRA).
When using this data, please acknowledge the Minderoo Foundation by including this text in your Acknowledgments section:We would like to thank Minderoo Foundation for sequencing reads deposited in [use sequence IDs or DOIs here].
Rowley Shoals Expedition – BioProject PRJNA930913
Exmouth Research Lab
The Minderoo Foundation Exmouth Research Lab provides scientists with state-of-the-art facilities enabling high quality, high-impact marine research, on the doorstep of the World Heritage listed Ningaloo Reef.
The lab is attracting the world’s best marine researchers and scientists to the Ningaloo coast to study and improve ocean health and resilience.
This unique facility achieves the level of sophisticated environment control required to simulate conditions associated with climate change from temperature and acidification. It also supports the latest molecular testing equipment. Combining the aquaria and genetics lab under one roof has already allowed critical research into identifying heat-resilient coral that can survive damaging heatwaves. The molecular laboratory is also enabling environmental DNA fingerprinting to monitor endangered sea snakes and wedgefish, and unlock forensic techniques to reveal the movements and behaviour of whale sharks.
Take a Tour of the Facilities
The Exmouth Research Lab is in the coastal town of Exmouth, which is approximately 1270km north of Perth. Exmouth is situated on the northeastern side of the Cape Range Peninsula and faces Exmouth Gulf.
The western side of Cape Range Peninsula is fringed by the Ningaloo Reef. The Ningaloo Reef Marine Park and adjoining Cape Range National Park are situated inside The Ningaloo Coast World Heritage Area.
The resident population is approximately 2,500 but visitors can greatly increase this number during the main tourism season.
Exmouth is serviced by Learmouth Airport, which is situated about 37km south of Exmouth.
Exmouth is characterised by a semi-arid climate with a long-term average rainfall of about 250mm/year (based on the Learmouth rainfall station). Mean maximum temperatures range from 38°C in January to 24.4°C in July. The northwest Australian coastline between Broome and Exmouth is the most cyclone-prone region of the entire Australian coastline, having the highest frequency of coastal crossings.
The two closest BOM weather recording sites to Exmouth are:
Learmonth Airport # 005007; Lat: 22.24 °S Long: 114.10 °E
Vlamingh Head # 005024; Lat: 21.81 °S Long: 114.11 °E
- Mar – Apr: Coral spawning.
- Apr – Jul: Peak whale shark season in Exmouth, the annual Ningaloo Whale Shark Festival usually takes place in July.
- Apr – Sep: Moderate temperatures.
- Jun – Nov: Exmouth’s peak whale-watching (and visitor) season.
- Aug – Nov: Peak wildflower season in Exmouth.
- Dec – Mar: Very hot temperatures.
See real time data from the Minderoo Exmouth weather station.
The Exmouth Research Lab uses solar energy for 100 per cent of its electricity needs during daylight hours.
The use of single-use plastic bags and similar are discouraged at the Exmouth Research Lab and throughout Exmouth more generally. Please use non-plastic bags or cardboard cartons for carrying shopping.
2 Truscott Crescent, Exmouth, Western Australia.
For all enquiries, please contact us via this email: MERL@minderoo.org.
Before contacting the Exmouth Research Lab, please check if your questions can be answered by the information on this page.
A list of the facilities available to researchers at our state-of-the-art lab.
Early stage planning
Some considerations to take into account early in the process of applying to use / using the lab.
Working with us
Be aware of the support provided, requirements and project criteria for projects using the lab.
Expressions of interest
Relevant information for those seeking to apply to use the lab’s facilities.
Template for all expressions of interest applications.
Global Fishing Index
Assessing the sustainability of the world’s marine fisheries
Over the past 50 years, the world has witnessed a massive decline in the health of its fisheries. Quite simply, we are removing fish from the ocean at a far greater rate than they can naturally replenish.
Fisheries are big business – with a staggering 109 million tonnes of marine fish caught globally in 2018. These fisheries provide millions of people with income, food and nutrition – yet many fish stocks are being severely misused.
The Global Fishing Index is a comprehensive report on the state of marine fisheries around the world. A world-first assessment of the governance and sustainability of fisheries in 142 coastal states, the Index uncovers critical gaps leading to overfishing and calls on governments and businesses to declare their intent and demonstrate action to reverse fisheries decline.
Half of fish stocks are overfished – and nearly 1 in 10 have been driven to collapse.
Of the 1,439 stocks assessed, almost half (45 per cent) have been depleted to less than 40 per cent of their pre-fishing population – our definition of ‘overfished’. Additionally, nearly 1 in 10 have been driven to collapse.
52 per cent of the global catch is from stocks that lack sufficient data to determine if they are sustainable or not.
Without this information, policy makers are unable to effectively manage fisheries to ensure sustainable use. There is a severe information gap in coastal fisheries – 29 countries have not assessed a single national stock, despite the importance of these fisheries for local jobs, food and nutrition.
With few exceptions, countries are not delivering against global sustainability commitments.
Without this information, policy makers are unable to effectively manage fisheries to ensure sustainable use. There is a severe information gap in coastal fisheries – 29 countries have not assessed a single national stock, despite the importance of these fisheries for local jobs, food and nutrition.
Most fisheries lack science-based management.
Here’s where countries are falling down: (1) fisheries data are not consistently collected or analysed, (2) data aren’t being used for management, and (3) laws and policies aren’t being enforced. For example, only 41 per cent of countries apply harvest control rules – pre-agreed rules that guide management action based on stock status – in their most valuable fishery.
Key stakeholders, including local fishing communities, are unable to effectively participate in management.
Despite their importance in enabling effective management, few countries empower important stakeholders – notably local fishing communities – to meaningfully participate in management processes. For example, nearly 40 per cent of countries lack “bottom up” forms of governance, such as community-based or customary management.
Call to Action
We are calling on governments, businesses and local communities
SET AMBITIOUS TARGETS TO RESTORE FISH STOCKS AND FOLLOW THROUGH WITH MANAGEMENT ACTION.
Governments and businesses need to set strong, time-bound and measurable targets to restore fish stocks and improve management. These targets should be accompanied by clear action plans, with progress regularly monitored and reported.
ESTABLISH SYSTEMS TO COLLECT AND PUBLISH FISHERIES DATA.
Establish and expand data collection programs to additional fisheries and work to integrate other types of information, including stakeholder knowledge, into decision-making processes.
EMBED EVIDENCE IN FISHERIES MANAGEMENT, USING A PRECAUTIONARY APPROACH WHERE UNCERTAINTY IS HIGH.
Adopt evidence-based management measures and strategies, such as catch and/or effort limits and harvest control rules, in all fisheries.
How You Can Help
There are a number of ways you can help end overfishing and ensure there is seafood for future generations.
Address the worst problems first – including overfished or unassessed stocks and critical governance gaps. You can use your country’s Index results as a starting point.
Adopt evidence-based policies that promote sustainable fishing, including science-based catch and fishing effort limits, rebuilding plans, and harvest control rules.
Invest in improving fisheries management – explore what has been successful elsewhere and work to adapt and replicate to meet local needs.
Audit your supply chain and require full disclosure about fishing practices and activities from your source companies and vessels.
Shift sourcing toward suppliers that show commitment to and progress towards good fishing practices and management.
Advocate for, fund and implement policies that will increase the sustainability of fisheries in your supply chain. For example, via supporting third-party certification and credible fishery improvement projects.
Get informed – learn about where your seafood comes from, who caught it and whether it’s sustainable or not.
Press for change – Urge government and industry leaders to take action to improve the state of fisheries.
Consume consciously – where possible, opt to purchase only seafood that is sustainable and well managed.
LOCAL FISHING COMMUNITIES
Drive innovation to develop fit-for-purpose solutions for your fisheries.
Push for policy change, individually or as part of a cooperative or fisher association.
Collaborate with scientists, managers, and other groups to identify and mitigate threats to local fish stocks and ecosystems.
Despite the lack of progress towards fisheries sustainability globally, there have been pockets of success where interventions have improved fisheries outcomes. Important lessons can be learned from these ‘bright spots’ – instances where strong action and innovative solutions are improving fisheries outcomes. These case studies highlight successful approaches to inspire new solutions to address fisheries challenges.
Illuminating the world’s ‘dark fleets’
Eliminating harmful fishing subsidies: Lesson form regional trade agreements
Fisheries management works - When we do it right
Working smarter, not harder: Empowering fishers to fish more responsibly
A new fisheries model: Promoting cooperation in the South China Sea
The Global Fishing Index 2021: Assessing the sustainability of the world’s marine fisheries
The 2021 Global Fishing Index is a world-first assessment of the governance and sustainability of fisheries in 142 coastal states. The Index uncovers critical gaps leading to overfishing and calls on governments and businesses to declare their intent and demonstrate action to reverse fisheries decline.
The Global Fishing Index 2021: Technical Methods
The Technical Methods outlines the methods used to produce the 2021 Global Fishing Index, including data collection and analyses, treatment of missing data, scoring and internal and external quality assurance.
The Global Fishing Index 2021: Governance Conceptual Framework
The Governance Conceptual Framework outlines the two-level hierarchical framework used to assess governance capacity in the 2021 Global Fishing Index.
The Global Fishing Index 2021: Governance Indicator Codebook
The Governance Indicator Codebook outlines the purpose of each of the 72 indicators used to inform the 2021 Global Fishing Index governance assessments, along with the data sources and scoring process for each indicator.
The Global Fishing Index 2021: Dataset
This dataset includes all data used to inform the 2021 Global Fishing Index, a summary of the missing data in the governance assessments and three novel datasets that were generated in partnership with Global Fishing Watch.
The download and use of this resource is bound by a content licence. Please read the licence and fill out the form below.
Plastic Health Map
The state of research on plastic in people
About the plastic health map
The first ever Plastic Health Map collates research that measures the potential human health effects caused by a wide range of plastic chemicals.
In the absence of health monitoring for these plastic chemicals, the Plastic Health Map shows what has been studied over several decades and is a tool to help us transition to a world where plastic is more sustainable, safer and free of toxic chemicals.
It brings together data from more than 3,500 primary studies from 1960 to 2022, which can be explored by researchers, clinicians, policymakers and anyone keen to find out more, via a user-friendly dashboard.
Evidence focuses on plastic polymers, bisphenols, plasticisers, flame retardants, and per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).
Users can search by chemical or health outcome, in different countries, age groups and more.
The methods and results of this systematic evidence mapping project are published in the Environment International article.
There are significant gaps in research on how plastic materials affect human health.
- Of more than 1,500 chemicals mapped, less than 30 per cent have been investigated for human health impacts.
- Many human health outcomes have not been investigated for any given chemicals class.
- No human exposure studies screened in the time frame of this project looked at the health impacts of micro- and/or nanoplastics.
- Very few studies were conducted in low-income countries.
- Limited studies focused on older/elderly populations.
- While more than 1,000 studies looked at the effects of mothers’ plastic exposure on children, no studies were carried out on the health of children whose fathers have been exposed to plastic chemicals.
Studies on health impacts of substitute chemicals commence many years after introduction.
As plastic chemicals proliferate, regulation struggles to keep pace with the quantity and complexity of determining their health effects. Restricted and banned chemicals are often replaced by structurally similar substitutes with the same or other unknown hazards. Only a small number of studies investigated these.
Trend in number of health articles published per year for classes of plastic chemicals banned/restricted and their substitutes
In each plot, the vertical lines from left to right indicate first ban/restriction of original chemicals, the rise in use of substitute chemicals and the rise in health articles published on substitute chemicals, respectively.
The Plastic Health Map
A systematic evidence map of human health studies on plastic-associated chemicals
Explore the data
The Plastic Health Map is an open access tool for researchers, policymakers and interested citizens on the state of human health research and plastic chemicals exposure. It provides important insights for policy, governance and further scientific enquiry.
Check out the videos for an overview and how to find the data of interest.
Frequently asked questions
What information does the database provide and how do I search it?
The Plastic Health Map is an open-access, interactive systematic evidence database collating human health research on a wide range of plastic chemicals from several different chemical classes, published between 1960 and 2022.
The database includes interactive plots and heatmaps showing the number of articles published each year by plastic chemical class, individual chemical, category of health outcome and the geographical distribution of the studies.
The plots and heatmaps can be filtered by plastic chemical, health outcome category, year of publication, study design, population (including country), age group and general/special exposure risk. Article references can be viewed and downloaded based on the filters selected.
Where can I learn more about the study behind the database?
The journal article published in Environment International provides background information, details on our study methodology, a comprehensive overview of the database, as well as detailed discussion of the results identified by the study. Additional supplementary data is downloadable directly from the journal’s website. Our project and relevant updates can also be found on our OSF page.
Did the study look at all the plastic chemicals?
It is estimated that there are more than 10,500 chemicals used in plastic production and only a fraction of these have been studied for human exposure and health outcomes. We conducted a targeted search for 1,557 chemicals categorised as polymers, bisphenols, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and plastic additives functioning as plasticisers and/or flame retardants. The Plastic Health Map houses the entire searchable database of included chemicals, indexing the multiple synonyms and commonly used terminology describing these chemicals.
I’m having trouble connecting to the database – what can I do?
We recommend using Chrome or Microsoft Edge. If you have trouble connecting:
- Check your browser’s security settings – you may need to delete cookies that have been saved.
- Check that the beginning of the URL starts with “https” (not “http”).
The figures (heatmaps and plots) in the Map look crowded/squashed on my screen – how can I fix this?
First, the Map is best viewed on a full computer screen with the browser window “maximised”, rather than on a mobile device. Second, the “squashed” issue is related to the web-browser settings and can be fixed using the zoom function under “settings”. Try reducing the zoom gradually until the figures present properly without overlap/squashing of text and images (80-90 per cent may be suitable when using a large monitor; 67 per cent on a small laptop).
Why are microplastics and nanoplastics (that is, plastic particles) missing from the Plastic Health Map?
Despite including micro- and nanoplastics in our search strategy, just one study screened during this project measured microplastics in human tissues and analysed relationships with health outcomes. As it was the only study measuring the plastic exposure in faeces, this study is not represented in the Plastic Health Map but is described in our paper. We are aware that further studies on particles may have been published since January 2022, and these will be represented in future updates.
How should I reference the database in my projects or publications?
What are the limitations of the database?
The scope of the chemicals in the Plastic Health Map is limited to polymers, plasticisers, flame retardants, bisphenols and PFAS, although we recognise that humans are potentially exposed to many other plastic chemicals. There is potential for the database to include others. Due to time and resource limitations, only articles published/available in the English language are included in the database.
While we indicate whether studies involved male/female or mixed sex populations, for mixed populations we do not provide details on any sub-analyses that may have been conducted on male/female groups.
The Map does not display the correlations found/not found between plastic exposures and health outcome measures. We followed the typical systematic evidence map framework to demonstrate the scope of research conducted to date, without assessing the quality of studies, which would be necessary to report on correlations.
Will the database be updated?
We aim to update the database periodically and this will be announced on our OSF page. We are open to collaborating on future projects to improve or extend the database.
Who can I contact for questions and suggestions regarding the database?
We welcome questions, feedback and collaboration on this project.
The Plastic Health Map was created by Minderoo Foundation, in collaboration with Australian research institutes:
Bhedita Seewoo [a,b], Louise Goodes [a,b], Louise Mofflin [a,b], Yannick Mulders [a,b], Enoch Wong [a,b], Priyanka Toshniwal [a,b], Manuel Brunner [a,c], Jennifer Alex [a], Brady Johnston [a], Ahmed Elagali [a,b], Aleksandra Gozt [a], Greg Lyle [d], Omrik Choudhury [a], Terena Solomons [e], Christos Symeonides [a,f], Sarah Dunlop [a,b]
- Minderoo Foundation
- School of Biological Sciences, The University of Western Australia, Australia
- School of Molecular Sciences, The University of Western Australia, Australia
- School of Population Health, Curtin University, Australia
- Health and Medical Sciences (Library), The University of Western Australia, Australia
- Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Royal Children’s Hospital, Australia
Gratefully acknowledging valuable contributions from:
Emily White, Tristan Dale, Hamish Newman, Delia Hendrie, Alina Naveed, Andrew Lowe, Mark Norrett, Matthew Cantrell, Megan Bakeberg, Anastazja Gorecki, Jane Edgeloe, Akila Yapa, Elizabeth Thomas, Joanne Webb, Lisa Hooyer, The UWA Library, Allan Finn, and Julie Glanville.
We welcome questions, feedback and collaboration on this project.
Sign up to receive updates as we advocate for an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution.
Plastic Waste Makers Index
Purchase Order Terms & Conditions
- The Purchase Order and these Conditions (collectively the Agreement) constitute the entire agreement between the party referred to in the ‘Additional information’ section of the Purchase Order (Company) and the Vendor for the supply of the goods or services specified in the Purchase Order. In the event of any conflict between the Purchase Order and these Conditions, the Purchase Order will take precedence.
- This Agreement may not be varied except in writing signed by Company. Any variation will only be applicable to the specific Purchase Order for which the terms and conditions are varied and will not apply to past or future Purchase Orders nor oblige Company to agree to such a variation for any other Purchase Orders.
- To the extent the Vendor’s terms and conditions are supplied with goods or services (including as printed on consignment notes or other documents), those terms and conditions will be of no legal effect and will not constitute part of the Purchase Order (even if any representative of Company signs those terms and conditions or annexes the terms and conditions to the Purchase Order).
- These Conditions apply only to the extent that they are relevant to the supply of the goods or services listed in the Purchase Order.
Specific warranties and conditions
- The Vendor warrants and represents that it is duly incorporated and has obtained all necessary approvals to execute and perform its obligations under this Agreement.
- If the Vendor is contracting in the capacity of a trustee of a trust, then the Vendor warrants and represents to Company that:
- it is duly and validly appointed as trustee for the trust;
- it has the lawful authority to enter into this Agreement for and on behalf of the trust; and
- it has a right of indemnity over the trust assets in respect of meeting any expense or debt incurred by the Vendor in connection with this Agreement.
- In the absence of a specification or sample, the Vendor warrants and represents that all goods or services supplied must be the best of their respective kinds and subject to Company’s satisfaction. In all cases the goods or services are to be of first class workmanship, of merchantable quality and fit for the purpose as represented by the Vendor to Company or the purpose which could reasonably be inferred by a professional supplying the goods or services. Services must be performed by appropriately qualified, competent, skilled, experienced and professional personnel and must be rendered with the degree of skill, care and diligence expected of a competent professional with experience in carrying out similar services. The goods or services must comply with any applicable legislation and relevant standard of the Standards Association of Australia, and must be supplied with copies of all material safety data sheets for dangerous goods.
- Unless otherwise specified, the Vendor warrants and represents that the goods are properly and safely packed and delivered to, or the services are performed at, the place and within the time period specified in the Purchase Order.
- The Vendor warrants and represents that it has complete ownership of the goods free of any liens, charges and encumbrances and Company will be entitled to clear, complete and quiet possession of the goods.
- The Vendor warrants and represents that any of the goods or services supplied under this Agreement and the use or enjoyment of those goods or services does not and will not infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or confidentiality of any person.
- The representations and warranties under clauses 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 are made on a continuing basis and remain unaffected notwithstanding suspension, termination or expiry of this Agreement.
Inspection and acceptance
- Company has a reasonable time after delivery to inspect the goods and reserves the right to inspect any goods before despatch from the Vendor’s premises. Company may inspect or witness tests on the goods or services or their results at any time. Where the Vendor is providing professional services, the Vendor must keep and maintain accurate and reasonably detailed books and records in connection with the performance of the services. The Vendor will permit Company to audit and examine any books and records at any time. Company’s acknowledgement of receipt, inspection or payment for goods or services does not relieve the Vendor of any responsibility or liability (including any express or implied warranties or guarantees) and does not constitute acceptance by Company.
- Without limiting any other rights or remedies it may have, Company may (as applicable):
- reject any defective goods or services by written notice;
- require the Vendor to repair, resupply or make good the defective goods or services;
- itself repair, make good or resupply the defective goods or services; or
- appoint a third party to repair, make good or resupply the defective goods or services.
- The Vendor must:
- with respect to a decision made by Company under clause 13(a), provide a full refund of any purchase price paid in respect to any rejected goods or services and Company may procure such goods or services elsewhere; and
- with respect to a decision made by Company under clause 13(b), repair, resupply or make good the defective goods or services at its cost.
- If Company elects in writing, the funds described in clause 14(a) may be set off against other amounts owing by the Company to the Vendor under this Agreement.
- If Company does not make a decision under clause 13, and the goods or services are left at Company’s site, Company will be deemed to have accepted the goods.
- The responsibility for care and custody of the goods together with the risk of loss or damage to the goods remains with the Vendor and does not pass to Company until Company:
- takes delivery of the goods; and
- inspects and accepts the goods in accordance with clauses 12, 13, 14, and 15.
- Prior to providing any services at Company’s site, the Vendor must ensure:
- that all personnel required to work on the site under this Agreement have attended the appropriate inductions (as specified by Company); and
- if required by Company, submit a safety and/or environmental management plan to Company for approval.
- During performance of the services at the site the Vendor must comply with all of Company’s site specific rules, procedures and requirements; with all relevant legislation and regulations; and with all directions from Company’s representatives, including safety or environmental representatives of Company. The Vendor acknowledges that it will enter Company’s site at its own risk.
- In performing any services the Vendor must use its best endeavours not to interfere with any of Company’s activities, or the activities of any other person on Company’s site and must ensure that Company’s site is left secure, clean, orderly and fit for immediate use.
- The price is inclusive of all costs incurred by the Vendor in the supply of the goods or the performance of the services including all charges for packaging, packing, insurance and delivery of the goods in accordance with this Agreement and the cost of any items used or supplied in conjunction with the services. This price is also inclusive of all duties and taxes except GST. Unless authorised in writing by Company, no charge for extras (including government duties and taxes, except for GST) in excess of the value of the Purchase Order will be accepted.
- The Vendor must submit a tax invoice which fully complies with all State or Federal legislative requirements for any work performed under this Agreement. Subject to receipt of a tax invoice, if any supply made under this Agreement is or becomes subject to GST, the party to whom the supply is made must pay to the party making the supply an additional amount of GST in addition to any consideration payable or to be provided elsewhere in this Agreement. If any party is required to reimburse or indemnify the other party for a cost, expense or liability incurred by the other party, the amount of that cost, expense or liability for the purpose of this Agreement is the amount of the cost, expense or liability incurred less the amount of any credit or refund of GST to which the party incurring the cost, liability or expense is entitled to claim.
- The Company reserves the right to delay payment of the invoice until the Company is:
- able to independently verify the Vendor’s bank account details; or
- able to comply with all laws and regulations because the Vendor provides all required information to the Company.
- Payment of the invoice will be made as soon as reasonably practicable after the Company is able to verify or comply as the case may be.
Liability and insurance
- The Vendor must indemnify and keep indemnified Company from and against all losses, actions, claims, procedures, damages, costs and expenses of any kind arising out of or in connection with the Vendor’s performance under this Agreement.
- Neither party is liable for any special, indirect or consequential loss or damage, in contract, tort (including negligence) under statute or otherwise, including loss of goodwill, loss of revenue, loss of profit or loss of business opportunity.
- The Vendor must, at its own expense, procure and maintain the insurances required in writing by Company from time to time and ensure that every subcontractor engaged by it maintains insurance in the same manner. In addition to the insurances required in writing by Company, where the Vendor is providing professional services, the Vendor must procure and maintain professional indemnity insurance of not less than $5 million for each claim and in the aggregate for all claims arising in the same insurance period, covering the liability of the Vendor for any professional services provided by the Vendor under this Agreement. The professional indemnity insurance must be maintained for 6 years after the end of this Agreement. Before supplying any goods or services or performing any work under this Agreement the Vendor must lodge with Company certificates of currency to evidence the existence of the policies required to be arranged by the Vendor and its subcontractors. All costs incurred by Company as a consequence of the Vendor not being insured to the appropriate extent, will become a debt due from the Vendor to Company.
- Company may withhold payment to the Vendor of any tax invoice until certificates of currency have been received and confirmed in writing by Company.
Termination and suspension
- The delivery of goods or the provision of services may be suspended if any circumstances beyond the reasonable control of Company or of the Vendor prevent the manufacture, delivery or acceptance of the goods or provision of the services and either party provides notice to the other of suspension and details of the relevant circumstances. Shortage of labour or materials or failure or delays of the Vendor’s subcontractors will not constitute “circumstances beyond the reasonable control of the Vendor”. If any suspension continues for a period greater than six (6) weeks, either party may terminate this Agreement by notice in writing to the other party without liability except for any rights or obligations which may have accrued prior to that date.
- Subject to clause 29, without limiting any other rights, Company may terminate this Agreement without any liability to the Vendor if not performed within the time specified in the Purchase Order or, if no time is specified, within a reasonable time.
- Either party may immediately terminate this Agreement by notice in writing to the other party if the other party (a) breaches any term under this Agreement and such breach is not remedied within 14 days of notice being given to remedy the breach; (b) breaches any law relating to the supply of the goods or services; (c) becomes insolvent; or (d) is convicted of a criminal offence.
- Company may terminate this Agreement by giving 30 days’ written notice to the Vendor without cause, in which case Company shall reimburse the Vendor for (a) all work in progress or (b) work and expenses incurred up to the date of the notice of termination which cannot be reversed or mitigated by the Vendor applying best efforts.
- Unless expressly stated otherwise termination for any reason does not affect the rights of a party that arise before termination or as a consequence of the event or occurrence giving rise to the termination, or as a consequence of the breach of any obligation under this Agreement which survives termination and termination does not affect the rights a party may have under common law.
- Any plans, drawings, designs or information supplied by Company to the Vendor in connection with this Agreement remain the property of Company and any information delivered or otherwise communicated by Company to the Vendor in connection with this Agreement will be regarded by the Vendor as secret and confidential and must not, without the written consent of Company, be published or disclosed to any third party or used by the Vendor except in implementing this Agreement or if required by law.
- Any new invention, design, technique or literary work (including documents, reports, drawings and computer software) or any improvement to an existing patent made or developed by the Vendor during and for the purposes of this Agreement will be the property of Company and full details must be communicated immediately and assigned to Company. Company has the exclusive right and title to, and interest in, all rights conferred under statute, common law and equity including rights in all copyright, patents, trademarks, business names, trade names, domain names, designs, confidential information, trade secrets or know-how (Intellectual Property Rights), made or created in, or arising out of, the performance of this Agreement.
- The Vendor must keep this document and the terms and existence of this document confidential and unless required to do so by law, must not disclose it to any person or organisation or make any press release or announcement referring to Company without the prior written approval of Company.
- At the prior written request of Company acting reasonably, the Vendor will sign a confidentiality and non-disclosure agreement for the benefit of Company.
- Company prefers (wherever possible) to provide local (Australian) suppliers with a full, fair and reasonable opportunity to supply equipment and materials. If equipment or materials are to be supplied by a subcontractor to the Vendor, then the Vendor must satisfy the terms of this clause in respect of the supply of such equipment or materials.
- Company may make applications for import duty concessions relating to items procured under this Agreement. The Vendor must provide whatever assistance and/or information including import details in a timely manner to assist in such applications as requested by Company. Where Company succeeds in applications, the Vendor may obtain duty funds as requested by Company and must remit the proceeds to Company. Where concessions are obtained prior to the importation of goods, and the Vendor is able to import the goods duty free, including under an AusIndustry Determination, the Vendor must pay an amount equal to the customs duty savings to Company.
- The Vendor undertakes and agrees that:
- it has taken reasonable steps to identify, assess and address risks of child labour, bonded labour, human trafficking, forced labour and other forms of modern slavery and slavery-like practices (Modern Slavery Practices) in the operations and supply chains used in the performance of this Agreement; and
- it is not currently aware of the use of any form of Modern Slavery Practices (either directly or through a third party supplier) in the performance of this Agreement, or if it is aware of the use of Modern Slavery Practices, it has disclosed this to the Company.
- Upon the request of the Company, the Vendor will provide information on:
- the Vendor’s steps to identify and assess risks of Modern Slavery Practices in the operations and supply chains used in the performance of this Agreement;
- the Vendor’s processes for addressing any Modern Slavery Practices of which it becomes aware in the operations and supply chains used in the performance of this Agreement;
- the content and timing of training for any officer, employee, contractor (including subcontractor) or agent of the Vendor (Personnel) about Modern Slavery Practices; and
- the processes for handling a complaint or grievance about Modern Slavery Practices that is consistent with the criteria set out in the United Nations’ Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: Implementing the United Nations “Protect, Respect and Remedy Framework. (Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights) available to the Personnel (Grievance Mechanism).
- If at any time the Vendor suspects or becomes aware of Modern Slavery Practices in the operations and supply chains used in the performance of this Agreement, the Vendor must as soon as reasonably practicable:
- take all reasonable action to address or prevent these practices, including where relevant by addressing any practices of other entities in its supply chains;
- take all reasonable steps to remediate any adverse impacts caused or contributed by the Vendor from these Modern Slavery Practices, ensuring at all times that the welfare of victims is prioritised in accordance with the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights; and
- immediately disclose to the Company the Modern Slavery Practices and the response taken in accordance with subclauses 42(b) and (c) above.
- Without limiting clause 42, in performance of this Agreement, the Vendor must:
- not require Personnel to pay fees, charges, expenses or financial obligations incurred in order for the Personnel to secure their employment or placement (Recruitment Fees), regardless of the manner, timing or location of the imposition or collection of these Recruitment Fees;
- not destroy or exclusively possess, whether permanently or otherwise, the travel or identity documents of Personnel; and
- ensure Personnel can access a Grievance Mechanism to safely report any instances of Modern Slavery in the operations and supply chains used by the Vendor in its performance of this Agreement.
Governing law and laws of other jurisdictions
- The Vendor must comply with the laws of the jurisdictions in which it operates, including those laws relating to anti bribery and corruption. The Vendor must maintain in place throughout the term of this Agreement policies and procedures to ensure compliance with such anti bribery and corruption laws (which policies and procedures must be disclosed to Company on request) and must comply with such policies and procedures at all times.
- This Agreement is governed by the laws of Western Australia. Each party irrevocably and unconditionally submits to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of Western Australia.
Terms & Conditions
This is the website terms and conditions (terms) for Minderoo Foundation Limited (ACN 651 422 141) as trustee for The Minderoo Foundation Trust (ABN 24 819 440 618), along with its related entities (referred to herein as we, us or our). Our related entities include Minderoo PBI Limited, International Health Philanthropy Limited, Minderoo Investments No 1 Pty Ltd and Minderoo Investments No 2 Pty Ltd.
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To help educators dive deeper into the film we have worked with Cool.org and ATOM to create education resources for the film.
Do you want to know more about education resources for the film or to be notified when it is available for streaming or on DVD?
You can now watch Blueback at home. Click here for more information on how you can rent or buy the film.
In cinemas: Blueback opens in cinemas across Australia on 1 January 2023
Streaming services: Coming in 2023
Film director Robert Connolly, author Tim Winton and actress Mia Wasikowska discuss Blueback and its message of protecting our oceans.
United Nations Plastic Treaty
The UN Treaty on Plastic Pollution
“Every minute, the equivalent of two truckloads of plastic enters our oceans. It’s time for change.”
Plastic is polluting people and planet
Plastic is everywhere: in our packaging, our body washes and our everyday items. It’s versatile, cheap and convenient. But this convenience has a hidden cost.
Of the more than eight billion tonnes of plastic produced since large-scale production of the fossil-fuel-based material began in the 1950s , less than 10 per cent has been recycled, meaning more than 90 per cent has been landfilled, incinerated or survives to this day to leak into the environment. With production set to treble over the next decade, we will be drowning in 25 billion tonnes of plastic waste by 2060 .
The waste issue is just the tip of the iceberg. Toxic chemicals used in plastic production and across the material’s lifecycle pose risks to our climate and health. These harmful substances, leaching from plastics, contaminate our water, food and air. Our latest research indicates these toxins increase the risk of miscarriage, cardiovascular disease, cancer and other major health concerns.
A unique opportunity
to end plastic pollution
Recognising the urgency of the situation, the United Nations initiated the Treaty on Plastic Pollution. The plastic problem is now acknowledged by 193 United Nations Member States which are negotiating a legally binding treaty to combat plastic pollution. The third session of these negotiations (INC-3) is set for 13 – 19 November 2023 at the UNEP Headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya.
History has shown us that effecting change at the country level is challenging. Plastic doesn’t respect borders and doesn’t easily degrade. That’s why a united front is essential. This treaty presents a unique opportunity for humanity and our world to harmonise efforts to create a future free from plastic harm.
We advocate for the treaty to:
- limit fossil-fuel plastic production and consumption
- support the transition to a safe and just circular economy for plastics, ensuring products are designed for circularity
- eliminate problematic and harmful substances and materials
- prevent plastic leakage throughout its life cycle with sound waste management
- align all public and private financial flows with the treaty’s objectives, eliminating harmful flows and bolstering a safe and just circular plastics economy.
What can you do?
Every voice counts. Support our cause. Spread the word. Share now.
2. MacLeod M, Arp HPH, Tekman MB, Jahnke A. The global threat from plastic pollution. Science. 2021; 373(6550): 61–65. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1126/science.abg5433
3. Geyer R, Jambeck JR, Law KL. Production, use, and fate of all plastics ever made. Sci Adv. 2017; 3(7): e170078. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.1700782<
The Plastic Pollution Fee
Outlining the options ahead of INC-3.
Prompted by the high and rapidly increasing levels of plastic pollution, the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) initiated the negotiation of an international legally binding instrument to end plastic pollution, including in the marine environment.
Ahead of the meeting of the third International Negotiation Committee (INC-3) in November, the Chair of the INC published a “Zero Draft” of the Instrument, including options for provisions to tackle plastic pollution at every step of the life cycle.
This paper explores a pivotal element of the Zero Draft—a proposed mandatory, global fee on plastic polymer producers (the “Plastic Pollution Fee”)—envisioned as an innovative source of financing for the implementation of the instrument, notably in developing countries. The Zero Draft also proposes provisions for fees as an example of an economic instrument that can support possible control measures.
This Design Study explores design options and technical aspects of the Plastic Pollution Fee to support and inform subsequent intergovernmental dialogues. It precedes a comprehensive Impact Study, which will model the Plastic Pollution Fee's potential environmental, social and socio impacts.
Aim and Scope of This Paper:
- outlining the design options and technical considerations for the Plastic Pollution Fee
- examining the Plastic Pollution Fee's relationship with other control measures included in the Zero Draft
- outlining the proposed approach and scenarios for modelling the Plastic Pollution Fee’s potential environmental, social and economic impacts
- responses to this preliminary paper will inform a white paper before INC-4.
Collaboration with Analytical Partners and Advisors:
- collaboration with experts in international law and trade, policymaking economics, and modelling experts for a well-rounded analysis
- an Advisory Group and an Expert Panel of seasoned professionals oversee this study's scope, methodology and outcomes.
Big Data transforming small-scale fisheries: A new reporting system in Timor-Leste
By Dr Alex Tilley, WorldFish
It is safe to say that with better information, you can make better decisions – and that is particularly true of the world’s small-scale fisheries. This sector provides vital food and livelihoods for billions of people, yet very little information exists on where the millions of fishers go or what they catch. If the sector is to be sustainably and equitably managed, good data are crucial.
PeskAAS is a digital reporting system that collects, analyses and displays data from small-scale fisheries in Timor-Leste in near real time . It was designed in collaboration with fishers and government officials to support science-based decision making, which is critical to local food security.
The name PeskAAS comes from the word for fisheries (peskas) in Tetum, the national language of Timor-Leste, combined with Automated Analytics System (AAS).
Central to the system was the fitting of 500 fishing vessels with solar-powered tracking devices, which recorded where fishers went and how long they spent at different fishing sites. Upon landing, the fishers are met by trained community members, who record their catches using smartphones and tablets. The data are then uploaded and published on an online, open-access dashboard the same day.
The results have had a huge impact on fisheries management and led to Timor-Leste reporting an accurate estimate of the national catch to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in 2020, the first since 2001. Program findings contributed to the drafting of a new national fisheries strategy and revisions to the country’s fisheries law in 2019. The same year, the Timorese government officially adopted PeskAAS, placing it among the most sophisticated national monitoring systems for small-scale fisheries in the world.
This system has brought new insights into fishing patterns, the effects of fishing methods on production levels, and the lives of those who depend on fishing in the country. It has also supported a deeper understanding of the health of the country’s marine ecosystems and what might constitute sustainable levels of catch.
The challenges associated with the project were substantial: the work spans the country’s 25 dialects, with the names of fish species often varying from one fishing community to another. Literacy is low in fishing communities, meaning that it was challenging to describe the advantages of such a system to potential participants.
To overcome this issue, we approached the communities one-by-one and held discussions with them in partnership with the Department of Fisheries – as a result, we were able to gain a better understanding of the fishers’ needs, and show how such a tool could help them. Involving fishers in the design of PeskAAS highlighted the need and mechanism for frequent feedback via municipal fisheries officers, which also helped establish local acceptance.
As a result, the vast majority of fishers were happy to share information about where they fished, what they caught, and their earnings. They were also happy for the tracking devices to be installed on their boats.
We also worked hard to ensure the National Fisheries Directorate were involved. When the project started, the work of the Directorate was limited mainly to administrative tasks, such as the registration of fishing boats. There was limited understanding of the opportunities for better fisheries management and very little useful data. The team spent time explaining the importance of robust, reliable data, and how it could support national priorities on tackling food insecurity and improving nutrition.
Through these discussions, it quickly became clear that estimates of fish production in the country were based on little more than the number of registered fishing vessels. It meant that one of the early successes of PeskAAS was in providing a more accurate estimate of the national catch. This, in turn, provided decision makers with a clearer idea of what needed to be done to meet targets for national fish consumption, and how the gap could be plugged by the country’s nascent aquaculture sector.
PeskAAS continues to evolve in Timor-Leste, with a particular focus on improving fisher involvement and use. Our next goal, in response to feedback from local fishers, is to develop a personalised ‘fisher module’ that will provide fishers with a way of tracking their own activities – for example, providing a platform for them to log expenditure on inputs like ice, bait and fuel, as a way of better understanding profit margins, checking market prices for different fish species, and monitoring earnings. This project is already underway in Malaysia, prior to deployment at other sites.
PeskAAS is open source and was designed to be highly adaptable to new geographies and fisheries contexts – pilot studies are already underway in Asia and Africa. The team hopes this work will bring new understanding to small-scale fisheries globally and support a range of co-management options.
We hope to expand PeskAAS to include fish traders and consumers, and more informal and poorly documented fisheries such as gleaning, both of which tend to be dominated by women but for which very little data currently exists . These advances aim to empower fishers to make more informed decisions about where, what, and when to fish, while supporting the co-management of fisheries in partnership with government.
This work is led by WorldFish and Timor-Leste’s Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. It is part of the CGIAR Research Program on Fish Agri-Food Systems (FISH). The pilot project in Timor-Leste was funded by The Royal Norwegian Embassy in Jakarta, and developed further under two Inspire Challenge awards from the CGIAR Platform for Big Data in Agriculture, in partnership with Pelagic Data Systems.
1. Tilley, A., Dos Reis Lopes, J. and Wilkinson, S.P. (2020). PeskAAS: A near-real-time, open-source monitoring and analytics system for small-scale fisheries, PLOS ONE 15, (11), p. e0234760, http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0234760 [10 November 2021]
2. Tilley, A., Burgos, A., Duarte, A., dos Reis Lopes, J., Eriksson, H. and Mills, D. (2021). Contribution of women’s fisheries substantial, but overlooked, in Timor-Leste, AMBIO 50, (1), pp. 113-124, http://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-020-01335-7 [10 November 2021]
Illuminating the world’s ‘dark fleets’
By David Kroodsma, Global Fishing Watch
Historically, what happens over the horizon in the ocean has largely been unmonitored. This obscurity has given illegal fishers uncontrolled access to offshore waters, with as much as one in every four fish thought to be caught through illegal, unreported or unregulated fishing .
Recent advances in vessel-tracking technology have helped illuminate the activity of industrial vessels at sea. Many countries now require large vessels to broadcast their positions via an automatic identification system (AIS) or vessel monitoring systems (VMS). As a result, most fishing vessels larger than 24 metres can now be tracked with relative ease .
The problem? Vessels trying to avoid oversight can simply turn their AIS off and ‘go dark’ – remaining hidden from surveillance systems.
But dark fleets are not completely invisible.
Optical imagery allows us to take pictures of these vessels from space using high-resolution cameras and radar (Figure 1). In the last ten years, literally hundreds of satellites have been launched that can image the ocean. With help from machine learning and big data processing, our ability to find dark fleets is rapidly improving.
The waters off North Korea provide a gripping example.
In 2017, the United Nations Security Council responded to missile tests by banning all countries from fishing in North Korea’s waters. Despite this, South Korean authorities reported hundreds of vessels passing through on their way into North Korean waters. Few of these vessels broadcasted their GPS positions through conventional tracking technology.
But these ‘dark fleets’ could only stay hidden for so long. In July of 2020, a team of researchers led by Global Fishing Watch and including scientists from Japan, South Korea, Australia and the United States, revealed that over 900 vessels originating from China were active in North Korean waters – a discovery made possible by combining AIS data and satellite imagery (Figure 2). It’s estimated that between 2017 and 2019, these vessels caught more than half a billion dollars’ worth of squid – making this the largest known case of illegal fishing by vessels originating from one country, operating in another country’s waters (i.e. foreign fishing) .
Global Fishing Watch is now applying the same method to monitor dark fleets globally. Around the world, hundreds of thousands of large and medium-sized fishing vessels are placing their hooks and nets without broadcasting their location, either to avoid regulations or, more often than not, because they are not required to do so. By using years of satellite imagery collected from the European Space Agency, it is now possible to count and identify these dark fleets. Further, by assessing where these vessels are detected, we can model which are likely to be fishing – and, more importantly, which may be fishing illegally.
While radar and optical imagery data may help reveal the true extent of fishing activity globally, these tools do have their limitations. Satellite’s cannot take pictures of the entire ocean, and where available, imagery may be infrequent due to the satellite’s orbit. Additionally, distinguishing fishing boats from other types of vessels remains a challenge, especially in areas of high vessel traffic like east Asia and the Persian Gulf – although Global Fishing Watch’s research shows that vessels operating on the continental shelf and positioned far from shipping lanes or oil-producing regions, are often fishing vessels.
Despite these limitations, these new technologies have the power to transform how we monitor industrial fishing – by making the unseen, seen. Around the world, there are fleets like the one in North Korea, operating with little oversight and depleting fish stocks.
By combining innovative satellite imagery with existing vessel tracking data and the knowledge from fisheries agencies around the globe, vast swaths of the ocean will no longer be dark. By making invisible operations visible, we can improve fisheries management, reduce pressure on legal fishers, and help secure a more sustainable future for the ocean.
1. Agnew, D.J., Pearce, J., Pramod, G., Peatman, T., Watson, R., Beddington, J.R. and Pitcher, T.J. (2009). Estimating the worldwide extent of illegal fishing, PLOS ONE 4, (2), p. e4570, http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0004570
2. Kroodsma, D., Mayorga, J., Hochberg, T., Miller, N.A., Boerder, K., Ferretti, F., Wilson, A., Bergman, B., White, T.D., Block, B.A., Woods, P., Sullivan, B., Costello, C. and Worm, B. (2018). Tracking the global footprint of fisheries, Science 359, (6378), pp. 904-908, http://doi.org/10.1126/science.aao5646 [15 March 2020]
3. Park, J., Lee, J., Seto, K., Hochberg, T., Wong, B.A., Miller, N.A., Takasaki, K., Kubota, H., Oozeki, Y., Doshi, S., Midzik, M., Hanich, Q., Sullivan, B., Woods, P. and Kroodsma, D.A. (2020). Illuminating dark fishing fleets in North Korea, Science Advances 6, (30), p. eabb1197, http://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.abb1197 [10 November 2021]
Eliminating harmful fishing subsidies: Lesson form regional trade agreements
By University Killam Professor U. Rashid Sumaila, Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries, University of British Columbia
Harmful subsidies are a major driver of overfishing globally – they help build more boats and provide access to cheaper fuel, enabling fishers to travel farther and catch more fish. Unsurprisingly, there have been many attempts to remove these harmful subsidies, including the 2010 Aichi Biodiversity target 3 and the 2015 United Nation’s Sustainability Development Goals, target 14.6.
Since 2001, the 160 or so countries that form the World Trade Organization (WTO) have tried to negotiate an international, legally-binding agreement that eliminates harmful fishing subsidies. Yet, twenty years on, this effort continues .
So, the question remains – what is preventing an agreement from being reached?
One of the key challenges faced by the WTO is negotiating “special and differential treatment” for developing and least developed countries (LDC). Special and differential treatments are an important component of all WTO agreements as they support developing countries and LDCs with capacity-building and ensure that the required technical support to enable the full implementation of WTO agreements is available.
Some believe that developing countries and LDCs should be exempt from any new restrictions on harmful fisheries subsidies, as they are considered necessary for alleviating poverty and enabling developing countries to compete with large fishing countries. In reality, however, harmful subsidies are not effective for competing with large fishing nations and can worsen poverty in the medium to long term .
Additionally, WTO members continue to disagree over how to define a country’s eligibility for such exemptions. Several fishing entities, including the European Union and the United States, strongly oppose the inclusion of terms in the WTO agreement that state that any developing country is exempt from removing harmful subsidies, regardless of their contribution to global fisheries subsidies. On the other hand, China – one of the largest contributors to global fisheries subsidies – opposes this view and wishes to be included under such exemptions.
So, if the WTO is unable to come to an agreement, what are the alternatives?
One promising approach has come through regional trade agreements that include reasonably strong commitments to eliminating harmful subsidies – the 2018 Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the 2020 United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).
Despite being ‘simply’ trade agreements, the CPTTP and the USMCA have started to drive advances in ocean sustainability. Member nations are required to use science-based management systems to prevent overfishing and overcapacity. They must implement port controls to combat illegal fishing and prohibit the provision of subsidies for vessels engaged in illegal fishing or that further threaten overfished stocks.
At face value, trade agreements may seem like an unusual avenue for saving the planet. But they increasingly require all members to align their national environmental legislations with ‘best practice’, in exchange for market access between member states – not necessarily for the health of the planet, but because unequal policies create an unequal economic playing field, giving countries with less effective governance a competitive advantage . Both the CPTPP and the USMCA have extensive and binding environmental standards that countries negotiate and commit to as part of the deal.
These trade agreements also offer an enviable approach to transparency and cooperation. Both agreements outline that all laws, regulations, procedures and administrative rulings must be made publicly available, so anyone can comment on them . Operationalising such open transparency comes with its challenges, however it remains a core provision of both agreements. The CPTPP also places emphasis on cooperation between its members to identify areas where further support is required to ensure all its provisions are implemented successfully.
Together, the twelve countries that have signed up to the CPTTP and the USMCA – including Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and the United States – account for 22 per cent of global fishing subsidies, or almost US$4,912 million annually . These two agreements alone mean we are well on the way to tackling a considerable proportion of the problem.
The recently appointed Director-General of the WTO, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala – the first female and first African in the role – noted that “there is an increasing loss of confidence in the ability of the WTO to produce results,” and that there is a need for the WTO to change their approach “from debate and rounds of questions to delivering results” in order to achieve success. On July 15, 2021, Dr Okonjo-Iweala secured members commitment to a draft text as a basis for negotiations, raising hopes that a final deal can be struck this year.
The success of these agreements sends an important message to WTO negotiators ahead of the next critical Ministerial Conference from 30 November to 3 December 2021 – reaching an agreement on harmful subsidies is indeed possible. However, the twelve countries that make up these agreements recognise that without an overarching international agreement to manage the one global ocean, their efforts may not amount to much . Success at an international level is critical for transforming our ocean.
1. World Trade Organization (2021). WTO members hold February cluster of meetings for fisheries subsidies negotiations. https://www.wto.org/english/news_e/news21_e/fish_24feb21_e.htm [5 March 2021]
2. Cisneros-Montemayor, A.M. and Sumaila, U.R. (2019). Busting myths that hinder an agreement to end harmful fisheries subsidies, Marine Policy 109, p. 103699, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpol.2019.103699 [6 October 2020]
4. Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (2021). Outcomes: Transparency. https://www.dfat.gov.au/trade/agreements/not-yet-in-force/tpp/Pages/outcomes-transparency [22 February 2021]
5. Sumaila, U.R., Ebrahim, N., Schuhbauer, A., Skerritt, D., Li, Y., Kim, H.S., Mallory, T.G., Lam, V.W.L. and Pauly, D. (2019). Updated estimates and analysis of global fisheries subsidies, Marine Policy 109, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpol.2019.103695 [6 October 2020]
6. Sumaila, U.R. and Pauly, D. (2007). All fishing nations must unite to cut subsidies, Nature 450, p. 945, https://doi.org/10.1038/450945a [20 March 2020]
Fisheries management works - When we do it right
By Professor Ray Hilborn, School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington
Concerns about overfishing have existed for more than a century. But it is only relatively recently that intensive fisheries management – in some form or other – has become commonplace and effective. Today, most developed countries conduct scientific research on their fish stocks and ecosystems, restrict catch or fishing effort based on trends in stock health and have an enforcement system to make sure that regulations are obeyed. We consider these elements essential to modern fisheries management – but, with few exceptions, these elements were not in place 50 years ago.
Several factors interacted to drive the emergence of intense fisheries management. Global fishing effort expanded particularly between 1950 and 1990, leading to an increase in food production – and fishing pressure. More and more stocks became overfished. Historically, most continental shelf fisheries were open to all fishing countries, and coastal states could not control fishing beyond 12 miles. But, beginning in the late 1970s, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the declaration of Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs), gave states almost totally control for fisheries in a 200 nautical mile-wide band of their coastal waters.
In 1992, the highly-publicised collapse of a major Canadian cod stock focused global attention on the urgent need to stop overfishing – and better manage our fisheries. Similar declines in fish stocks have played out across major fisheries globally in the last half-century where abundance data is available: in Argentina, Canada, Chile, Europe, Japan, New Zealand, Peru, South Africa and the United States, and on the high seas, leading to the implementation of catch and effort restrictions.
The ability of science-based fisheries management to rebuild fish stocks — when it is applied — is visible in global data.
We used a database of over 1,000 stocks from across the world – with highly reliable information on their status – to track fishing pressure and fish abundance, with the results published in 2020 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences . As the pressure rose between the 1970s and the 1990s, average fish abundance across all stocks declined. Then, in the 1990s, fisheries management as we know it today began to take shape and to intensify, reducing the fishing pressure. By 2000, we could see increases in the average abundance of the 1,000 fish stocks, and today, these stocks are, on average, well above target levels to maximize food production.
The United States provides some insight into the power of fisheries management to impact stock health. Alaska is home to the largest fisheries in the country – including pollock, cod, sole, salmon, crab, herring and halibut – many of which have sustained Alaskan communities since humans first arrived. Offshore fisheries were developed far more recently by foreign vessels, until the declaration of the United States’ EEZ in 1983. By that time, industrial fishing in the North Atlantic had already overfished many stocks, and Alaska’s managers, scientists and fishermen had seen the catastrophic consequences of poor fisheries management. As a result, managers had learned the lessons of the North Atlantic and fishing pressure never rose too high — the abundance of the fish has remained well above target levels.
In contrast to the proactive management observed in Alaska, fisheries on the Pacific west coast of the lower 48 states followed the pattern seen more broadly around the world: fishing pressure increased all the way up until the 1990s, then declined. Changes made to the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Management and Conservation Act in 1996 required overfished stocks to be identified and rebuilt on a strict timeline. Allowable catches were dramatically reduced, sometimes by over 90 per cent. The size of the fishing fleet declined and the abundance of the fish stocks increased — all but one of the stocks classified as overfished are now at or above management targets. Consequently, local fishing communities were devastated: processing plants closed, boats were tied up, and fishing income declined dramatically. Ironically, the proportion of the allowable catch harvested also declined dramatically, and current scientific evidence indicates that much less drastic reductions in catch would have allowed stocks to rebuild, while at the same time protecting fishing communities .
Appropriate fisheries management tools depend on local circumstances. We know a broad suite of management measures, used collectively, successfully reduces fishing pressure and increases fish abundance. We also know that some specific management measures have a disproportionately positive impact on a stock’s recovery, including harvest control rules and rebuilding plans. Strong commitment to international fisheries agreements also strengthens fisheries management in domestic waters .
The roadmap to fisheries sustainability is clear – where science-based management has been intensely applied, fish stocks are now healthy or improving. The problem lies in that we still lack reliable information about the health of the stocks which make up at least half of the world’s catch, thus the prognosis of their stock status is that most will continue to be overfished. These data-limited fisheries are critical for food security and micronutrient requirements in some of the world’s poorest communities. Greater investment in fisheries management systems will lead to healthier fish populations, to the benefit of all the communities that rely upon them.
1. Hilborn, R., Amoroso, R.O., Anderson, C.M., Baum, J.K., Branch, T.A., Costello, C., Moor, C.L.d., Faraj, A., Hively, D., Jensen, O.P., Kurota, H., Little, L.R., Mace, P., McClanahan, T., Melnychuk, M.C., Minto, C., Osio, G.C., Parma, A.M., Pons, M., Segurado, S., Szuwalski, C.S., Wilson, J.R. and Ye, Y. (2020). Effective fisheries management instrumental in improving fish stock status, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 117, (4), pp. 2218-2224, https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1909726116 [13 November 2020]
2. McQuaw, K., Punt, A.E. and Hilborn, R. (2021). Evaluating alternative rebuilding plans for mixed stock fisheries, Fisheries Research 240, p. 105984, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fishres.2021.105984 [17 June 2021]
3. Melnychuk, M.C., Kurota, H., Mace, P.M., Pons, M., Minto, C., Osio, G.C., Jensen, O.P., de Moor, C.L., Parma, A.M., Richard Little, L., Hively, D., Ashbrook, C.E., Baker, N., Amoroso, R.O., Branch, T.A., Anderson, C.M., Szuwalski, C.S., Baum, J.K., McClanahan, T.R., Ye, Y., Ligas, A., Bensbai, J., Thompson, G.G., DeVore, J., Magnusson, A., Bogstad, B., Wort, E., Rice, J. and Hilborn, R. (2021). Identifying management actions that promote sustainable fisheries, Nature Sustainability, (4), pp. 440-449, https://doi.org/10.1038/s41893-020-00668-1 [10 March 2021]
Working smarter, not harder: Empowering fishers to fish more responsibly
By Dr Hoyt Peckham, Wildlife Conservation Society; Cecilia Blasco, SmartFish NGO; and Jada Tullos Anderson, Wildlife Conservation Society
Porfirio Zuñiga, a Mexico fisher, was trapped in a vicious cycle of overfishing. Forced to catch ever more fish at ever lower quality, to compensate for steadily decreasing prices and increasing costs, the outlook for Porfirio and the thousand or so other fishers who depend on Mexican sandbass was grim.
This cycle, which is common – even universal – where fisheries governance is relatively weak, perpetuates a poverty trap. It jeopardizes the wellbeing of small-scale fishers and fishworkers, their communities, and the ecosystems upon which they depend.
Porfirio, and Mexico’s 250,000 licensed artisanal fishers, would not be trapped this way if Mexico’s fisheries policies were backed by better information, management and compliance. But it isn’t.
In 2013, we built a hybrid social enterprise that combines a non-profit NGO with a for-profit business, the SmartFish Group, to empower Mexican fishers like Porfirio to overcome this vicious cycle of overfishing and poverty through an approach widely used in small-scale agriculture .
On the supply side, the non-profit SmartFish NGO screens and then partners with artisanal fishing cooperatives (co-ops) with strong institutional capacity such as leadership and administrative structures. We ‘incubate’ them, professionalizing, and bringing in line with international standards, all aspects of their businesses across the three sustainability dimensions – environmental, social and economic. As a result, these co-ops produce higher-quality seafood that’s also more responsibly caught, more sustainable and also food-safety certified.
SmartFish Inc., the business side, sells their catch into more profitable markets, rewarding fishers like Porfirio for their more responsible fishing and incentivizing them to further improve their performance. Core to SmartFish Inc’s model are shorter supply chains, rigorous sourcing policies, comprehensive traceability systems and full transparency, including open-book’ negotiations. Unfortunately, these basic approaches are lamentably unusual in the extremely opaque seafood sector.
To date, Smartfish NGO has assessed 50 co-ops and their associated fisheries and partnered with thirteen of them. Seven of these co-ops, including Porfirio’s, have fully integrated our recommendations, yielding important outcomes. Catch and bycatch have decreased thanks to the use of more selective – and labour-intensive – gear.
The prices received by fishers have risen by an average 71 per cent and the percentage of the final value that co-ops retain has increased an average of 54 per cent. We see stronger co-ops because of the retained value, more diversified revenue and financial resources, and increased work for unemployed and under employed coastal citizens, particularly female family members of fishers.
Lastly, these partnerships have implications for governance: improved data collected through the traceability systems can be used to inform management and improve co-management capacity and measures, including fishing reserves, voluntary quotas and size limits and time-area closures.
Tempting as it is to leverage markets to drive fisheries improvement, doing so is not a panacea for improving fisheries globally. Fisheries market interventions in general – and increases in fish value, specifically – can produce unintended social, economic, and environmental consequences. These may include increased fishing effort, lost access to fish for food for the poor and displacement of women and other marginalized people.
To ensure against these unintended impacts, we start by screening fisheries for several enabling conditions, including that access is limited to the fishery, and target species are biologically resilient. We also developed a suite of both intrinsic and conditional ‘safeguards’, including systematic assessment to identify risks; third-party environmental validation to improve trust and easily communicate improvement actions; and conservation covenants to protect against overfishing and habitat destruction. With these safeguards in place, SmartFish NGO is gearing up to replicate nationally, aiming to directly empower more than 6,000 Mexican fishers by 2025.
We’ve learned several lessons in the process of developing this market-based approach. First, systematically assess fisheries’ governance, social and financial as well as environmental performance prior to intervening in order to better tailor durable, equitable improvements.
Second, carefully research and if possible, test a suite of safeguards, to avoid fuelling the fire of overfishing and or deepening inequalities. Third, it’s crucial to avoid setting unrealistic expectations to engage partners – for example, better prices, market access and the like. Finally, because market leverage can be exceedingly powerful it must be wielded with precautionary care. Too often, market forces are unleashed in fisheries where fishers lack basic socioeconomic rights. Following a rights-based-approach to fisheries governance, we recommend sequencing investments in small-scale fisheries, first securing fishers’ basic socioeconomic rights, then ensuring fisheries governance is robust before eventually intervening in fisheries markets.
To address that first point, SmartFish NGO has partnered with Ocean Outcomes, Conservation International and Wilderness Markets to produce and pilot a Triple Impact Fisheries Evaluation Framework (Triple Impact Framework). In contrast to conventional, environmentally-focused fisheries improvement and certification processes, this approach reduces the risk of unintended consequences by tackling the ‘big three’ – social, financial and environmental – dimensions of fisheries.
As the Global Fishing Index governance ratings illustrate, many countries with small-scale fisheries have limited management capacity. With robust safeguards and enabling conditions in place, this triple impact approach can be used to cautiously harness markets, empower fishers to fish more responsibly – and encourage co-management that will strengthen governance.
Ocean Outcomes, Conservation International, and the Wildlife Conservation Society, along with local NGO and commercial partners, are using the Triple Impact Framework across a range of governance contexts. The Triple Impact Framework can be found on the Small Scale Fisheries Hub Resource library and at Ocean Outcomes.
A new fisheries model: Promoting cooperation in the South China Sea
By the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue
The South China Sea represents both a potential geopolitical flashpoint and a looming ecological disaster. The rich fishing grounds are estimated to contribute 12 per cent [1, 2] of the global fish catch and employ more than 3.7 million people . Yet there has been an alarming decline in fish stocks in the region – with stocks fished down to a fraction of their original levels .
If nothing is done, this decline is predicted to continue over the coming decades with serious implications for food security. While the exact cause of this rapid ecological decline is still being explored, it is clear that the ecosystem is under severe strain.
There is an ongoing struggle over which states have the right to control access to and resources of the South China Sea. Maritime rights or sovereignty over various features in South China Sea are asserted by a range of states including Brunei, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam. More than a mere dispute over resources, countries see defending their rights as essential to protecting their national security and affirming their national honour.
Despite the rising hostilities, the interconnected nature of the South China Sea’s fish stocks means that regional states need to work together to prevent further decline. There have been many calls for increased cooperation, including from the regional states themselves . However, sovereignty disputes have obstructed the development of regional institutions that could enable cooperation.
To overcome this impasse, scientists and governments from China, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam have been meeting regularly since 2018 to identify practical ways to work together. This process has been supported by the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, an independent and neutral organisation with the mission to prevent, mitigate, and resolve violent conflict.
Early on, it became clear that the first step towards cooperation was to gain consensus on the state of fish stocks in the region. While there was significant expertise available, the evidence was held by each country and rarely shared – which, in turn, kept officials from making decisions about how best to protect and ensure the sustainability of fish stocks.
Over the course of five meetings between scientists, fisheries policy makers, diplomats and national security officials, a plan was developed to undertake a Common Fisheries Resource Analysis together – a voluntary, science-led and informal process.
This process crystalised the essential role of bilateral consultation during the cooperative process. Prior to convening participants from the five countries, Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue first undertook detailed individual consultation with participants from each country. This helped ensure the meetings and overall process remained consistent with the priorities of each country and focused on what is politically possible.
As of early 2021, scientists from the five countries have selected a focus species (skipjack tuna, Katsuwonus pelamis), reviewed the available evidence and selected a common stock assessment method to assess the data. Scientists are now working within single-country groups to use this method to analyse their own data. The results of that analysis are then shared by the scientists with the other countries. This individual country focus and sequencing avoids countries having to share raw data, while allowing regional scientists to leverage their collective expertise and pool evidence to build a shared scientific consensus on the state of fish stocks. This consensus could provide a foundation for further cooperation by states at the official level.
The Common Fisheries Resource Analysis is a modest effort considering the scale of the South China Sea’s environmental challenges. Still, this relatively small step is important: the efforts are delivering scientific evidence to improve domestic policies. By combining the analysis among the five participating countries, fisheries policies have a stronger evidence base on which to make policy decisions.
The process is also developing norms and standards for regional cooperation. For example, the resource analysis process is building a group of scientists across the region that understands the same stock assessment method. It is also demonstrating the benefits of a regional scientific cooperation.
In an environment of low trust, the process aims to show that scientists are willing to cooperate, and that this type of cooperation has genuine benefits to all regional states.
Despite news headlines of hostilities, the experience of working on practical cooperation has shown that scientists around the region are willing to work together. Government officials are also starting to see this scientific cooperation as an important way to protect the South China Sea’s marine environment and build the trust necessary to ensure the South China Sea remains peaceful.
The authors would like to acknowledge the work and dedication of the scientists, experts and policy makers around the region that make this work possible.
1. Sumaila, U.R. and Cheung, W.W.L. (2015). Boom or Bust: The Future of Fish in the South China Sea, Living Oceans Report, ADM Capital Foundation. https://www.admcf.org/research-reports/boom-or-bust-the-future-of-fish-in-the-south-china-sea/ [15 July 2021]
2. Pauly, D., Zeller, D. and Palomares, M.L.D. (2021). Sea Around Us Concepts, Design and Data. https://www.seaaroundus.org [30 June 2021]
3. Funge-Smith, S., Briggs, M. and Miao, W. (2012). Regional overview of fisheries and aquaculture in Asia and the Pacific 2012 (RAP Publication 2012/26), Asia-Pacific Fishery Commission, FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Bangkok, Thailand. https://www.fao.org/3/i3185e/i3185e00.htm [15 July 2021]
4. Silvestre, G.T., Garces, L.R., Stobutzki, I., Ahmed, M., Santos, R.A.V., Luna, C.Z. and Zhou, W. (2003). South and South-East Asian coastal fisheries: Their status and directions for improved management: conference synopsis and recommendations, in: Silvestre, G., Garces, L., Stobutzki, I., Ahmed, M., Valmonte-Santos, R.A., Luna, C., Lachica-Aliño, L., Munro, P., Christensen, V., Pauly, D. (Eds.). Assessment, Management and Future Directions for Coastal Fisheries in Asian Countries, WorldFish Center Conference Proceedings, pp. 1-120. [15 July 2021]
5. See for example the ASEAN-China Declaration for a Decade of Coastal and Marine Environmental Protection in the South China Sea (2017-2027) and ASEAN-China Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (2002).
Deep-sea mining is still a possibility despite growing calls for a moratorium
Following a pivotal series of meetings in Jamaica in July 2023, one company is pushing ahead with its plans to commence deep-sea mining despite no regulations being agreed upon by the International Seabed Authority (ISA).
Need a refresher on what deep-sea mining is? Read more here.
Outcome of the July 2023 International Seabed Authority meetings
ISA member states were under pressure to finalise regulations that would allow for deep-sea mining, after a two-year ‘deadline’ was triggered in 2021.
However, countries pushed back on the attempt to fast-track mining.
The ISA council, responsible for drafting regulations, agreed to postpone finalising a mining code until at least 2025 due to the lack of science to show that there would not be irreversible damage to the marine environment.
But pro-mining states pushed back in the final week of meetings, known as the ISA Assembly and comprised of 167 member states. A proposed agenda item to discuss the growing call for a pause in fast-tracking mining regulations was blocked, as these pro-mining countries argued it was not in the remit of the Assembly to discuss the matter.
As the Assembly is the supreme organ of the International Seabed Authority and the mandate of the body is to ensure both the protection of the marine environment and the exploitation, many nations questioned this logic.
“The Assembly should have a debate on something that is of the utmost importance to all, protection of marine environment. It is part of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and we regret it is continuously blocked,” Hervé Berville, French State Secretary for the Sea, said.
The final agreement saw the agenda item – with an additional item for discussion about the obligatory periodic review of the International Seabed Authority’s operations – be revisited in the 2024 meetings.
Disappointed at the outcome, deep-sea mining aspirant The Metals Company announced it would submit an application to mine from July 2024 whether there are mining regulations in place or not. 
What’s at stake
Four billion years of life has evolved in the ocean, three times longer than on land. Ocean life makes life on earth possible, regulating our climate, providing much of the air we breathe, and generating vital food sources for billions of people.
The deep ocean may also hold the key to advancing medical science, as a potential source of beneficial molecules that could be used for antibiotics. Enzymes found in bacteria living around deep-sea hydrothermal vents are already used in tests for the COVID-19 virus. 
Yet we live in surprising ignorance of the deep ocean, particularly the creatures living in the deepest parts of our ocean and seabed, at depths of more than 10km below the surface.
An estimated 2.2 million species call our ocean home and only 10 per cent of these have been discovered and named to date. Each year 2,300 species are found, a figure that hasn’t changed significantly since the 1800s. 
Without proper regulations, deep-sea mining could wipe out these marine species.
A growing number of global businesses and financers are indicating that, by the time rare-earth metals are collected from the deep sea, there might not be a market for them.  The global seafood sector, and 37 global financial institutions, representing over €3.3 trillion of combined assets, are also urging governments to not let deep-sea mining go ahead.
Twenty-one countries – including Fiji, Palau, Vanuatu, France and Chile – have called for a pause, moratorium or ban on deep-sea mining until more scientific knowledge of its impacts and the protection of the marine environment can be guaranteed.
To ensure deep-sea mining is not fast-tracked, more countries need to attend the ISA Assembly and have an honest conversation about a precautionary pause.
Further, more countries must announce a ban, precautionary pause, or a moratorium on deep-sea mining.
You can call on your country to stand up for our oceans.
1. Source: The Metals Co. release: https://investors.metals.co/news-releases/news-release-details/tmc-announces-corporate-update-expected-timeline-application/
2. Source: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution: https://www.whoi.edu/oceanus/feature/finding-answers-in-the-ocean/
3. Source: Ocean Census: https://oceancensus.org/
4. Source: Finance for Biodiversity: https://www.financeforbiodiversity.org/wp-content/uploads/Global-Financial-Institutions-Statement-to-Governments-on-Deep-Seabed-Mining_FfB-Foundation_19July2023.pdf
Why deep-sea mining is not the solution for critical metals in the green economy
The world is racing towards a “green economy”. An economy powered by renewable energy technologies such as electric vehicles, wind turbines and solar panels to reverse the effects of climate change and preserve this beautiful earth we call home.
The transition to a low-carbon economy has led to a surge in demand for critical metals like cobalt, nickel, and copper, currently used in products such as batteries, wind turbines and solar panels to generate renewable energy.
Until now, the metals to power our transition to a green economy have been sourced from land, but some would have us now believe that we also need to exploit the pristine wilderness of the deep sea.
Supporters of deep-sea mining argue that extracting these metals from ancient geological features on the ocean floor could provide a new source of raw materials for the green economy.
Emerging research argues however, that deep-sea mining is unnecessary and potentially harmful to our environment and that there are alternative ways to meet the demand for critical metals.
It is essential to acknowledge that the full environmental impacts of deep-sea mining are unknown. The ocean floor is a complex and fragile ecosystem that hosts many species, many of which are undiscovered.
Deep-sea mining involves disturbing the seafloor and releasing sediment into the water, which could harm or destroy habitats and lead to the extinction of species.
The long-term effects of deep-sea mining are still poorly understood, and the damage caused could be irreversible.
A circular economy
There is growing recognition that recycling and circular economy approaches could help to reduce the demand for new sources of critical metals.
Recycling reduces the need for mining, reduces waste, and conserves resources. The recycling rates for many critical metals are currently low, and there is significant potential for improvement with more research and investment.
Many countries have significant reserves of critical metals on land and the potential for further discovery and development. In addition, land-based mining has a growing focus on responsible mining practices, prioritising environmental protection, social responsibility, and transparency.
By improving land-based mining operations, we can minimise the environmental impacts of resource extraction on land and remove the need to start mining in the deep sea.
We must rely on more than current technology for the long term. As part of switching to a green economy, there needs to be a heavy focus on research and development toward alternative technologies that are more sustainable and do not rely on these critical metals.
The demand for critical metals is increasing as the world transitions towards a low-carbon economy; however, deep-sea mining is not the solution for critical metals. The potential environmental risks and uncertainties associated with deep-sea mining make it an unacceptable option.
We must focus on improving recycling rates, developing circular economy approaches, promoting responsible and efficient land-based mining practices, and exploring new and emerging technologies that reduce the demand for critical metals. By doing so, we can ensure that we meet the needs of the future in a way that is sustainable and environmentally responsible.
Woodside, whales and the imminent danger of new fossil fuel projects
Dr Tony Worby, Chief Scientist, Minderoo Foundation
When most Australians were taking a well-earned break over Christmas and New Year, a delegation of our scientists led by Chairman Dr Andrew Forrest AO were keeping close watch on Woodside’s seismic blasting for its Scarborough gas project off Australia’s Northwest coast.
Before Woodside can extract gas from Scarborough, the company uses seismic blasting to detect gas deposits, releasing soundwaves to the bottom of the ocean every 8-15 seconds for up to 80 days.
Monitoring marine life – our ocean work
Seismic blasting operations use sound pulses directed at the sea floor, which are some of the loudest man-made noises in the oceans . Sound is vital for whales and dolphins: this is their primary sense when living in a vast and dark ocean. They use it to navigate, search for prey and communicate with each other .
Woodside’s seismic blasting activity on the West Australian Northwest Shelf occurs in an important migratory habitat for pygmy blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus brevicauda) – an endangered species that needs our protection.
Pygmy blue whales communicate at low frequencies, so the noise from offshore gas operations has the potential to mask the sounds they need to communicate with each other. It can also mask other natural sounds in the ocean that these whales rely on for navigation .
So, while Woodside blasted, our team carried out its own passive acoustic monitoring, an inexpensive and effective way of observing the presence and distribution of marine mammals.
Minderoo’s scientists also carried out sampling of environmental DNA to detect what, if any, rare or threatened species were present around the area where Woodside was blasting. These samples are currently being analysed.
The human impact – lethal humidity
The seismic blasting kicked off just as global leaders at COP28 agreed we must move away from fossil fuels .
Woodside’s activities are emblematic of the broader fossil fuel industry’s impact on climate change. This connects not only to the immediate concerns about marine life but also to the far-reaching effects, such as lethal humidity, caused by rising global temperatures.
Over its total lifetime, the cumulative emissions of the Burrup Hub (of which the Scarborough project is part) could soar to 13 times Australia’s annual carbon output .
The 2023 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) revealed one of the greatest dangers posed by 1.5C warming was rising humidity and heat .
In dry heat, the upper limit of human survival is around 54C, however, with high humidity, our bodies can go into heatstroke from as low as 31-35C. That’s because, with high humidity and heat, our sweat can no longer effectively cool our bodies, causing our core temperature to rise  .
Soaring humidity paired with high temperatures is not something we’re built to handle for long stretches.
Lethal humidity isn’t a small problem, either. Regions such as India, China, the United States, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Mexico, parts of Australia, and various parts of South America, Africa, Asia and Europe are all facing increased vulnerability .
The takeaway? The threat of humidity and rising temperatures isn’t some distant future scenario. It’s here, demanding our attention and swift action right now .
That’s why Dr Forrest, our Chairman, is spearheading immediate action by convening a global council focused on addressing lethal humidity and heat. His resolve includes taking the fight to his global business peers at the World Economic Forum meeting later this month.
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Minderoo’s commitment to oceans
These research activities align with one of our three core focus areas – Oceans. We work to ensure human activities in the ocean are ethical, sustainable and do not compromise the health of marine environments. We want to preserve biodiversity for future generations to enjoy – and ensure we understand and mitigate the impacts of climate change.
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- Richardson, W. John, Charles R. Greene Jr, Charles I. Malme, and Denis H. Thomson. Marine mammals and noise. Academic press, 2013.
- 2.Richardson, W. John, Charles R. Greene Jr, Charles I. Malme, and Denis H. Thomson. Marine mammals and noise. Academic press, 2013.
- Tyack, Peter L., and Edward H. Miller. “Vocal anatomy, acoustic communication and echolocation.” Marine mammal biology: An evolutionary approach 59 (2002): 142-84.
- Brownell Jr, Robert L., Douglas P. Nowacek, and Katherine Ralls. “Hunting cetaceans with sounds: a worldwide review.” Journal of Cetacean Research and Management (2008).
- Fenton, Brock, Frants H. Jensen, Elisabeth KV Kalko, and Peter L. Tyack. “Sonar signals of bats and toothed whales.” Biosonar (2014): 11-59.
- 3.“Conservation Management Plan for the Blue Whale—A Recovery Plan under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, Commonwealth of Australia 2015”.
- Hildebrand JA (2009) Anthropogenic and natural sources of ambient noise in the ocean. Marine Ecology Progress Series 395:5–20.
- Nowacek DP, Thorne LH, Johnston DW, Tyack PL (2007) Responses of cetaceans to anthropogenic noise. Mammal Review 37:81–115.
- Southall B, Bowles A, Ellison W, Finneran J, Gentry R, Greene C, Kastak D, Ketten D, Miller J, Nachtigall P, Richardson J, Thomas J, Tyack P (2007) Marine mammal noise exposure criteria: initial scientific recommendations. Aquatic Mammals 33:437–445.
4. Australian Parliamentary Report (June 2021) https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Environment_and_Communications/SeismicTesting/Report
5. Conversation by University of Tasmania (Sep 2023) https://theconversation.com/whales-stop-singing-and-rock-lobsters-lose-their-balance-how-seismic-surveys-can-harm-marine-life-211207
6. United Nations Climate Change (Dec 2023) https://unfccc.int/news/cop28-agreement-signals-beginning-of-the-end-of-the-fossil-fuel-era
7. The Guardian (Nov 2023) https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/nov/27/burrup-hub-gas-project-woodside-energy-research
8. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (2023) Synthesis Report IPCC Synthesis Report 2023
10. NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (2022) Steamy Relationships: How Atmospheric Water Vapor Amplifies Earth’s Greenhouse Effect https://climate.nasa.gov/explore/ask-nasa-climate/3143/steamy-relationships-how-atmospheric-water-vapor-amplifies-earths-greenhouse-effect/
11. Pennsylvania State University (2022) Humans can’t endure temperatures and humidities as high as previously thought https://www.psu.edu/news/research/story/humans-cant-endure-temperatures-and-humidities-high-previously-thought/
12. Vanos et al (2023) A physiological approach for assessing human survivability and liveability to heat in changing climate. Nature Communications. (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-023-43121-5)
Vanuatu becomes first in the Pacific to set a path towards cervical cancer elimination
Women in Vanuatu will have access to lifesaving cervical cancer screening, vaccination and treatment, thanks to a transformational program launched yesterday in Port Vila that is being rolled out across the archipelago nation.
The Eliminating Cervical Cancer in the Western Pacific (ECCWP) program in Vanuatu – where women are seven times more likely to die from cervical cancer than those in Australia – is a collaboration with the Vanuatu Ministry of Health, Vanuatu Family Health Association and Australian organisations including the Daffodil Centre (a joint venture between Cancer Council NSW and The University of Sydney), the Kirby Institute UNSW Sydney, the Australian Centre for Cervical Cancer Prevention, and Family Planning Australia.
The program has been made possible by investment from Minderoo Foundation and other funding partners and is on track to prevent cervical cancer and deaths from cervical cancer in Vanuatu.
More than 5,000 women have so far been screened for HPV, or human papillomavirus, which causes most cervical cancers. A further 25,000 women are due to benefit from a cervical cancer screening program that involves same day screening and treatment.
Thanks to a range of initiatives, the Vanuatu government declared yesterday that it would be the first nation in the Pacific to commit to a national strategy for the elimination of cervical cancer.
The Hon Leonard Joshua Pikioune, Minister of Health, said, “In Vanuatu, cervical cancer is the second most common cancer amongst women. Every year we have women who have lost their lives and the number is increasing every year. Today we are proud that Vanuatu is the first country in the Pacific to commit to the elimination of cervical cancer.”
Until now, vaccination, screening and treatment for cervical cancer have not been widely implemented across the Pacific. The World Health Organization has put forward coverage targets to be achieved by 2030 that will set all countries firmly on a path towards the elimination of cervical cancer: to vaccinate 90 per cent of girls against HPV before age 15; HPV-based screening for 70 per cent of women at age 35 and again at 45; and ensure that 90 per cent of women diagnosed with cervical pre-cancer and cancer are treated.
Dr Margaret Tarere, an obstetrician gynaecologist at Vila Central Hospital, said that cervical cancer screening and vaccination delivered through the program is improving the outcomes and experiences of women in Vanuatu.
“HPV screening has a lot of positive impacts in terms of patient satisfaction of awareness and their health seeking behaviours, knowing that they are free from the virus. It means that positive cases can be treated in a timely manner, preventing them from developing cervical cancer and at the same time preventing the financial, social, psychosocial burden on their families, their community and Vanuatu as a whole,” Dr Tarere said.
Professor Andrew Vallely, Head of Global Reproductive Health at the Kirby Institute, said that the national strategy will save lives.
“We congratulate the Vanuatu Ministry of Health on leading the Pacific region with their commitment to the elimination of cervical cancer,” Prof Vallely said.
“Cervical cancer remains one of the most common causes of death among women in our region. Through the ECCWP program, we are thrilled to support Vanuatu’s cervical cancer elimination strategy and the tremendous leadership and vision of the Vanuatu Ministry of Health. It is truly a privilege to be part of this landmark endeavour.”
Dr Boniface Damutalau, gynaecologist and obstetrician at Vila Central Hospital, added that the screening programs for cervical cancer in Vanuatu were vital in helping communities without the resources or infrastructure to access screening and treatment.
“Without cervical cancer screening, the only time you know there is a problem with cervical cancer is once it is too late, advanced disease. In the early stages of cervical cancer, you don’t have any symptoms or signs, the only way you can diagnose it is through screening,” he said.
“This project is a big relief. Not only can we provide screening for age-eligible women across Vanuatu through a combination of fixed clinics and outreach, but we also don’t have to wait for results. We can treat those who test positive for cancer-causing HPV types immediately on the same day. With population spread over 69 inhabited islands, this is important,” Dr Damutalau said.
Florina, a Port Vila woman, shared her experience of receiving the screening and treatment as part of the program at Vila Central Hospital.
“As a single mother, I am very grateful that I get to find out earlier so that I can get treatment in time and I can spend time with kids; see them grow in the future as some of them are still really small. I believe that if we do not come forward to get tested, we may not live as long as we could have, so I think that it is really good that we have this easy access to check up on our health.”
Tess Howard, Head of Cancer Prevention at Minderoo Foundation, highlighted the potential for the collaborative approach applied in Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea as part of the ECCWP to be used in other nations where women are suffering from cervical cancer.
“Global issues need global support to achieve true impact. When philanthropy, industry, researchers, community organisations and governments come together, we have the power to advance lasting change for a fairer future for women and their families in the Western Pacific,” Ms Howard said.
Minderoo Foundation’s investment is bolstered by donations of equipment and consumables from Cepheid and Copan.
Eliminating Cervical Cancer in the Western Pacific Highlights:
National campaign ‘UNCLOUD’ launches to empower children and young people to say no to vaping
A new national campaign aims to empower Australian children and young people to say no to vaping and prevent the addiction of new smokers.
“UNCLOUD – See vaping for what it is” officially launched today and focuses on young Australians aged 14-25.
Supported by Minderoo Foundation, UNCLOUD delivers fact-based information in a peer-to-peer tone of voice via a dedicated website www.uncloud.org. Together with stories of young people’s real experiences shared on social media and across digital platforms, UNCLOUD aims to inspire others to share their warnings about vaping and say “no” to vapes in the first place.
Professor Claire Wakefield, Director of Minderoo Foundation’s Cancer Mission said that with more than half a million young Australians now vaping every day, urgent action was needed.
“UNCLOUD is about coming together to have a national conversation about the impact of vaping on children and young people, led by young people themselves,” Professor Wakefield said.
The UNCLOUD campaign is informed by several research studies, including Generation Vape and Minderoo Foundation’s “Vaping Among Young Australians Study” (July, 2023), which was designed to better understand attitudes and behaviour associated with vaping among 14 to 25-year-olds. The latter study revealed 80 per cent of young vapers said it was “easy” or “very easy” to get a vape, with curiosity and the range of flavours being the strongest influences on their decision to try vaping.
“Our data shows that three in 10 young people (aged 14-25) have vaped in the past 30 days. Of those young vapers, four in 10 now feel addicted to vaping which is worryingly high,” Professor Wakefield said.
At the heart of the UNCLOUD campaign are 11 young Australians who share their stories about the impact of vaping on their lives in the hope of inspiring others to see vaping for what it is.
Eighteen-year-old Croz was motivated to stop vaping when he started university, and he now wants to inspire others to do the same.
“When vaping gets its claws into you, they get in pretty deep so that’s why I wanted to share my own warning with other young people. When you first start vaping, you don’t know what you’re getting into,” Croz said.
An increasing number of young Australian vapers say they want to quit, with six in 10 revealing they would like to stop vaping within 3-12 months, up from 4 in 10 in 2022.
“Even if not labelled that way, disposable vapes not only contain toxic chemicals, they also commonly contain nicotine, which is highly addictive. Many young people have shared their experiences of battling addiction with us,” Professor Wakefield said.
Young vapers who have never smoked are three times as likely to take up smoking, compared to young non-vapers . In Australia, smoking tobacco remains the leading cause of preventable death and illness, including many types of cancer .
Annabel, 20, said that while it can be difficult to say no to vaping, a family history of cigarette smoking, seeing the impact of vaping on others and wanting to maintain a healthy lifestyle were key motivators not to vape.
“Whether you vape or not, our generation is the most impacted by vaping so I think young people’s voices will be most important in tackling this,” Annabel said.
UNCLOUD highlights the direct effects of vaping on health, including addiction, as well as the risk of accidental poisoning and burns. The campaign also addresses other effects such as the impact of vapes on the environment.
Rachel, 23, stopped vaping earlier this year and said it was important for young people to know they are not alone in wanting to stop vaping.
“We’ve come together to share stories, to influence other people to make a decision to quit vaping or not start and to get accurate information about vaping,” Rachel said.
Minderoo Foundation supports the Australian Government’s proposed reforms to tackle vaping through measures, including legislation and enforcement, to prevent the addiction of new smokers. The UNCLOUD campaign will complement the work already underway by State and Federal Governments and the health sector.
“The bigger picture here is that children should not have access to vapes. It is crucial that we come together to protect them urgently,” Professor Wakefield said.
About the ‘Vaping Among Young Australians Study’
In July 2022 and July 2023, Minderoo Foundation conducted a national quantitative research study to understand attitudes and behaviours associated with vaping. Both studies included nationally representative samples of around 2,500 Australians.
Minderoo’s 2023 research shows that among 14-25-year-olds in Australia:
- More than half a million are vaping every day (1 in 10)
- 50 per cent have never vaped
- 3 in 10 have vaped in the past 30 days (32 per cent)
- 4 in 10 young vapers self-report feeling addicted to vaping
- 75 per cent of young people believed vaping was somewhat or very common among their peers, however only 32 per cent had vaped in the past 30 days. There is a gap between perception and reality that influences trial and ongoing vaping behaviour
- 80 per cent of young vapers agreed it was somewhat or very easy to get a vape
- 6 in 10 young vapers say they want to stop vaping
Quotes from young Australians’ sharing their warnings about vaping for the UNCLOUD campaign:
- “Vaping gets its claws into you.” Croz, 18
- “My vape was a fruity plastic toy controlling my life.” Kate, 20
- “Vapes don’t taste as good on the way back up.” Joy, 19
- “When I was 14, I didn’t know how deep nicotine addiction would go.” Sio, 19
- “Seeing what vaping can do made me really glad I don’t.” Annabel, 20
- “Vaping only takes one or two hits and you’re in it.” Jade, 20
- “Don’t start vaping because stopping sucks.” Rachel, 23
- “I’ve spent over $3k on vapes.” Amber, 25
- “Only air belongs in your lungs.” Keegan, 18
- “I would go back and never start vaping if I could.” Aderline, 24
1. Banks, E., Yazidjoglou, A., Brown, S., Nguyen, M., Martin, M., Beckwith, K., Daluwatta, A., Campbell, S. and Joshy, G., 2023. Electronic cigarettes and health outcomes: umbrella and systematic review of the global evidence. Medical Journal of Australia, 218(6), pp.267-275.
Igniting Dreams: Young entrepreneurs participate in program to accelerate Indigenous-led businesses
A new cohort of First Nations entrepreneurs are participating in a program to inspire innovative approaches to solving global challenges, building capacity and enhancing business skills. Youth Co:Lab programme in Australia is co-led by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Citi Foundation, in partnership with Minderoo Foundation.
In July 2023, 200 youth participants representing 20 countries and territories attended the Youth Co:Lab Regional Summit in Bangkok, Thailand, to discuss how they can help tackle the world’s most pressing societal issues through leadership, social innovation and entrepreneurship.
Twenty-five First Nations entrepreneurs aged 18-30 have been selected to participate in the Minderoo Foundation’s Dream Venture masterclasses, run in partnership with the Wade Institute, which takes place in March 2024 and culminates in a pitch Gala event in April 2024.
They will receive coaching and mentorship to grow their businesses, attract investment and gain access to networks. Each can win up to $200,000 in seed funding and have the opportunity to pitch and network with investors and entrepreneurs at the Gala event in April 2024.
The Masterclasses will be facilitated by the Wade Institute of Entrepreneurship, a leading Australian centre for entrepreneurial training.
Participants will learn key strategies to raise capital and become investor-ready, meet like-minded First Nations entrepreneurs, investors and business leaders, and understand how to grow a sustainable business that balances social and economic returns.
Leslie Delaforce, Head of Indigenous Entrepreneurship, Minderoo Foundation, said the initiative, in its second year, has promoted awareness among international stakeholders, both government and business, of the unique role that young First Nations entrepreneurs can play in contributing towards the Sustainable Development Goals.
“What we are currently seeing is First Nations entrepreneurs overcoming obstacles and not only producing incredible results in Australia but also making an impact globally. The potential here is endless. Minderoo is proud to support the growth of First Nations business and entrepreneurship through the Dream Venture program, which will take place in 2024,” said Mr Delaforce.
Beniam Gebrezghi, Programme Specialist, Youth and Civil Society, UNDP Asia and the Pacific, added, “At Youth Co:Lab, together with our co-leads Citi Foundation, we are excited to be partnering with the Minderoo Foundation to support young Indigenous entrepreneurs. Our commitment to inclusivity, ensuring no one is left behind, remains central at the core of our work and programming. Dream Venture Masterclass represents another significant step towards our vision of empowering all youth. We look forward to enabling young founders in Australia and making them a part of our Asia-Pacific wide Youth Co:Lab community.”
Louise Lindsay, Head of Corporate Affairs, Citi Australia said, “UNDP and the Citi Foundation co-created the Youth Co:Lab initiative in 2017, recognising the key role youth can play in enabling progress and finding solutions for the most pressing challenges faced in their communities. We are delighted to support Youth Co:Lab in Australia and in partnership with UNDP and Minderoo Foundation enable young Indigenous entrepreneurs to become investment-ready and create economic opportunity.”
In July 2023, First Nations entrepreneurs were among 200+ participants at the regional Youth Co:Lab Summit 2023 held in Bangkok, Thailand, under the theme ‘Inclusive Entrepreneurship’, showcasing and inspiring youth action from underserved communities, as well as youth contributing to solutions to support the most excluded and hardest to reach groups to leave no one behind.
Minderoo Foundation commits $10m in humanitarian aid to Gaza, matching Australian government package
Minderoo Foundation has committed AU$10 million for humanitarian aid to civilians affected by the conflict in Gaza, matching the Australian government’s package.
In consultation with the Australian government, the Minderoo funding will be provided to UN agencies and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), enabling the delivery of urgent medical supplies and support, emergency water, nutrition as well as child protection.
Minderoo Foundation Chairman, Dr Andrew Forrest AO, said it was critical that Minderoo did what it could during global crises, when civilians are deprived of basic necessities.
“The people of Gaza are already suffering greatly. We feel a responsibility with the Australian government to do what we can to avert the rapid acceleration of this humanitarian tragedy, where innocent families are caught in a deadly crossfire that is not of their making,” Dr Forrest said.
“Minderoo continues to provide assistance to the people of Ukraine and will do the same for the civilians of Gaza who are being deprived of basic necessities due to the cruelties of conflict. We all agree that innocent children, mums and dads should be protected as much as possible.
“We support the Australian government’s $10 million package and will match it. We will do all within our power to ensure this aid reaches those that need it as quickly as humanly possible.”
Minderoo Foundation Co-chair, Nicola Forrest AO, said the assistance package will help protect the most vulnerable.
“With the humanitarian situation in Gaza rapidly deteriorating, it is vital that we act now so essential aid can be provided as quickly as possible,” Mrs Forrest said.
“Once more we witness the truth that children suffer disproportionately as innocent victims of conflict.
“It’s this stark reality that fuels Minderoo’s commitment to making a difference. By empowering our on-the-ground partners, the United Nations and MSF, our support will reach those who are most in need.”
Access to a VNR with comments from Dr Andrew Forrest is available here.
The Plastic Health Map
Scientists establish world-first database mapping research on plastic chemicals to potential human harms
A team of scientists at Australia’s philanthropic Minderoo Foundation has created a world-first database that maps more than 3,500 studies dating back to the 1960s on plastic chemical exposure and human health impacts.
Minderoo Foundation’s chemistry, data and health experts screened more than 100,000 individual scientific papers from multiple scientific journals to develop the open-access, interactive online tool – the Plastic Health Map.
The team uncovered growing evidence clusters, as well as stark research gaps. Marcus Gover, Director (Plastics) of Minderoo Foundation, said: “The researchers recommend a precautionary approach to chemical regulation, with continued health monitoring on new and existing plastic chemicals to ensure human health is protected.”
The database focuses on plastic chemicals to which consumers are commonly exposed: polymers, chemical additives that act as plasticisers and flame retardants, bisphenols, and per- or polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Users can filter the scientific literature available by type of plastic chemical exposure, country and human health outcome.
Louise Goodes, Plastic Health Map Project Lead at Minderoo Foundation, said the aim was to build a greater understanding of this emerging issue and inform regulation changes. It also provides a head start for scientists, highlighting the opportunities and priorities for future research.
“The Map includes studies from the 1960s onwards because this was when large-scale production and plastic pollution began to increase significantly, making human exposure to plastic materials and their degradation products inevitable,” Ms Goodes explained.
“Given the enormous quantity of plastic materials currently in use, as well as the fact that we were unable to determine whether many of the plastic chemicals in use globally had actually been measured in living humans and evaluated for possible health impacts, we identified an urgent need to systematically map existing research.”
The studies indicate that we are exposed to – often unregulated - plastic chemicals via inhalation, ingestion and skin contact. Children are additionally exposed prenatally, for example, via the placenta, and postnatally via breast milk.
The Plastic Health Map research spotlights concerning information gaps, including:
- Of more than 1,500 chemicals mapped, less than 30 per cent have been investigated for human health impacts.
- Many human health outcomes have not been investigated for any given chemicals class.
- Few studies have addressed “substitution” chemicals, such as organophosphate flame retardants, phthalate substitutes and bisphenol analogues, which have increasingly replaced restricted additives.
- The impact of micro- and/or nanoplastics on human health was not examined in any studies screened.
- Very few studies have been conducted in low-income countries where populations may be heavily exposed to plastic waste.
The research project, conducted using Systematic Evidence Map methodology, is described, along with a discussion about the key results, in an article published in Environment International. The authors of this study call for a “paradigm shift in chemical regulation” whereby, in the absence of evidence for human harm, we can’t assume that new chemicals are safe.
“While as authors we fully expected gaps in research, the extent of those gaps shocked us.” said Professor Sarah Dunlop, Minderoo Foundation’s Head of Plastics and Human Health. “All new plastic chemicals should be tested for safety before being introduced in consumer products, with ongoing post-introduction monitoring of their levels in human biospecimens and evaluation of health effects throughout the lives of individuals and across generations.”
Visit the Plastic Health Map for more information and videos.
Podcast: How sustainable is your seafood?
In this episode of the Ocean Impact Podcast, Minderoo Foundation’s Director of Fisheries and Conservation and Co-convener of the Fair Catch Alliance Dr. Chris Wilcox discusses Minderoo’s recent seafood mislabelling study, the Fair Catch Alliance, Global Fishing Index, and how consumers can help change seafood labelling in Australia.
To listen to the podcast, please visit https://www.ocean-impact.org/podcast/how-sustainable-is-your-seafood-with-chris-wilcox
Label quality and mislabelling rates restrict Australian consumer choices for sustainable seafood
A landmark national study to determine the scale of seafood mislabelling in Australia has found more than one in ten seafood products tested did not match the label, according to new research by Minderoo Foundation.
The study, published in Scientific Reports, reveals the rate of seafood mislabelling and species substitution is highest in shark and snapper species and that imported seafood is more likely to be mislabelled.
Dr Chris Wilcox, co-author and Director of Fisheries and Conservation at Minderoo Foundation, said the goal of the study was to estimate the rate of mislabelling in Australia by checking whether the description of the seafood being sold matches the DNA of the species.
“We conducted the largest evaluation of the quality and accuracy of labels for 672 seafood products sold in Australia, assessing six seafood groups including hoki, prawns, sharks and rays, snapper, squid and cuttlefish, and tuna,” Dr Wilcox said. “We tested samples from fish markets, restaurants, and supermarkets, including domestically caught and imported products and both packaged and fresh products.”
The DNA testing revealed 11.8 per cent of seafood sampled did not match the label, with sharks and snappers having the highest mislabelling rate.
Labels also provided relatively little information. Only one in four products (25.5 per cent) were labelled at a species-level, while most labels used vague common names or umbrella terms such as ‘flake’ and ‘snapper’.
"Flake, for instance, officially refers to gummy shark, but is often misused to describe any type of shark meat," Dr Wilcox explained. "Fifteen of the mislabelled flake products were actually elephant fish, which are only distantly related to sharks."
"We found that one in three of the shark products were not the correct species and one in four of the snappers was not what it said on the package," Dr Wilcox said.
Imported seafood was mislabelled at around 15 per cent compared to nine per cent for domestic products.
Emily Harrison, co–author and Ocean Policy Manager at Minderoo Foundation said consumers would be surprised to learn the extent of mislabelling with imported seafood.
“Australians are increasingly aware of the need to protect our ocean from unsustainable fishing and want better information about the seafood on offer, so they can be confident in their purchase,” Ms Harrison said. “Consumers would be surprised with these findings given that 65 per cent of the seafood we consume is imported. We know from previous research that consumers assume the checks and balances have already been done before the point of sale.”
Poor-quality labels had higher rates of mislabelling than species-specific labels. Poor labelling was also found to be more likely to conceal the sale of threatened or overfished stocks, as well as products with lower nutritional quality, reduced economic value, or potential health risks.
“In one instance, we found flake served as battered fish and chips was actually school shark, which is classified as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species,” Dr Wilcox said.
“This is a timely report with the Australian government considering measures to prevent the importation of Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated seafood.
"Systems to control imports include product tracing, which will ensure consumers and retailers can be confident in knowing where their product comes from, what it is, and that it was legally caught.”
“Overall, the research confirms the mislabelling rates in Australia are similar to other wealthy countries like the United States, but points to a problem that really needs to be addressed,” Dr Wilcox said.
“Consumers should be able to rely on the labels to represent what’s actually in the package. We wouldn’t accept that in other products so we shouldn’t have to accept it in seafood.”
To read the report, please visit https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-023-37066-4
Introducing the Minderoo Foundation Artist Fund 2023 cohort and $50k award winner
Minderoo Foundation has announced its 2023 Artist Fund cohort, and revealed the winner of the $50,000 Artist Fund prize as choreographer Tara Gower, who will now expand her First Nations dance project in the Kimberley with the Foundation’s support.
Minderoo Foundation CEO John Hartman said the unique philanthropic arts program for mid-career artists also includes its first eastern states-based artist.
“Minderoo Foundation is proud of the artists we support through our Artist Fund and the impact their works have had on their communities. We look forward to seeing what the 2023 cohort will create,” Mr Hartman said.
The new group of ten artists was selected by an independent judging panel, which included actor Ernie Dingo AM, Perth Festival director, Iain Grandage, photographer Frances Andrijich, singer-songwriter Alexia Parenzee, and Malinda Wink, Executive Director of Minderoo Pictures.
Six mid-career artists will receive $25,000 grants from the Minderoo Foundation Artist Fund:
- Co-creator of the breakout success INDIGIVERSE First Nations superhero comics Scott Wilson will enlist First Nations creatives to help produce two new comic series.
- Renowned percussionist and composer Thea Rossen will expand her 50-minute light, interactive projection and music performance piece Conditions of Growth.
- Award-winning author Holden Sheppard will advance the writing and development of his third novel, Dead Straight, a sequel to his breakout bestseller Invisible Boys.
- Children’s author Cristy Burne will develop a theatre work on positive STEAM stories for children, then develop a verse novel with Fremantle Press.
- Multidisciplinary artist Bruno Booth will create sculptures and costumes inspired by the covers of 70s and 80s fantasy novels, and record interviews with people living with economic marginalisation, fusing these elements into visual displays.
- Multidisciplinary artist Chloe Flockart will work with communities in WA’s Wheatbelt to create Slow Dusk, a sculpture series of native animals either extinct or near extinct from the local biosphere using materials found traditionally in the agricultural industry.
Four artists will receive residencies valued at $15,000 at exclusive WA locations:
- In a unique arts and science collaboration opportunity that was open to mid-career artists nationally, Brisbane-based composer Nicole Murphy will travel to Minderoo Exmouth Research Laboratory to create new works for piano and wind orchestra inspired by the Ningaloo coast and the laboratory’s research.
- Screenwriter, director, and producer Cassandra Nguyen will spend a month at Forrest Hall in Perth working on her new screen project Spanning Distance.
- Perth-based US bestselling author Annabel Smith will spend a month at Forrest Hall in Perth writing a novel exploring motherhood, mental health, identity, and therapy.
- Renowned visual artist Merrick Belyea will travel to Minderoo Station in WA’s remote Pilbara region to create drawings that capture the area’s unique landscape, then paint a series of large-scale diptych and triptych artworks that attempt to capture WA’s vastness.
In addition to supporting the new cohort of mid-career artists, Minderoo Foundation also paid tribute to its 2022 cohort: Laurie Steed, Kathryn Lefroy, Tineke Van der Eecken, Lucy Peach, Claire Martin, Mikaela Castledine, Tara Gower, Sid Pattni, Yvan Karlsson and Melle Branson.
From this cohort, Yawuru woman, choreographer Tara Gower, was awarded the $50,000 Minderoo Artist Fund Award for her Contemporary Indigenous Dance project Burrb Wanggarraju Nurlu.
Ms Gower said she will use the $50,000 Minderoo Artist Fund Award to set up her own rehearsal space and expand her dance program.
“The Minderoo Foundation Artist Fund has allowed my dreams to come true, which is to share my professional skills learnt whilst being a dancer with Bangarra Dance Theatre with the next generation,” Ms Gower said.
“As a result of completing my program, youth have an empowered understanding of themselves through connecting to country, culture, kinship, spirituality and ancestors, community, mind and emotions, which creates strong leaders of tomorrow.”
Since 2020, Minderoo Foundation’s Artist Fund has distributed more than $760,000 in grants, residencies and awards to mid-career artists, including family support payments to support artists who are a primary carer.
This support for mid-career artists has led to the creation of a significant body of new works by some of Western Australia’s best artists, supporting their careers at a crucial stage, allowing them to continue professional practise and notably contributing to the national arts sector.
Minderoo’s Strategic Impact Fund looks to catalyse change for good
Catalytic capital can play an increasingly important role in impact investing with the potential to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems, Minderoo Foundation has told a conference of Asia’s leading social investment professionals.
The AVPN conference, held in Kuala Lumpur, brought together more than 1300 delegates from 44 countries to discuss opportunities for philanthropy to drive the transformational change required to address the world’s biggest challenges.
This included discussions on collaboration, partnerships and innovative leadership as well as the significant potential of impact investing in pursuit of philanthropic aims.
Minderoo’s Executive Director of Effective Philanthropy, Jenna Palumbo, joined a panel of experts to discuss the power of catalytic capital to stimulate high impact ideas and create the market conditions for them to affect change.
“We are working to break the dichotomy between our traditional grant making activity and impact investment which has risk adjusted return expectations,” Ms Palumbo said.
“We have allocated $3 million to catalytic capital that aims to bridge that gap through market building activities, feasibility and business planning to unlock high-potential ideas, and providing capital along the continuum including low interest loans, first loss and blended finance.”
The $3 million is part of Minderoo’s $250 million Strategic Impact Fund, which was set up to scale and accelerate the impact of the Foundation’s philanthropic programs by investing in companies and funds that offer scalable impact solutions, while delivering appropriate impact-and-risk adjusted returns.
Ms Palumbo said catalytic capital was complementary to Minderoo’s grant giving to deliver on the Foundation’s philanthropic aims.
“We are aiming to unlock the full spectrum of capital including concessionary, blended, patient and first loss capital, as well as commercial investing that drives tangible impact,” Ms Palumbo said.
“Impact investors can crowd in additional mainstream investment by providing catalytic funding such as first loss capital, building the investment readiness of impact businesses and supporting market growth.
“Ultimately this leads to greater and often longer-term impact given the multiplier effect of leveraging in additional external capital while also allowing invested capital to be recycled into new opportunities that deliver on the philanthropic aims of a foundation.”
Examples of Minderoo’s use of catalytic capital include recent low-interest loans to social enterprise, and feasibility funding to unlock unutilised land for social and affordable housing.
“We are also embarking on a significant investment into catalysing the blue finance ecosystem aligned to our work protecting the world’s ocean ecosystems. This includes investing in frameworks and infrastructure to stimulate the blue economy at scale.”
Landmark partnership between U.S. Government and Minderoo Foundation to grow First Nations start-ups
Minderoo Foundation will partner with the U.S. Department of State to launch the Blak Angels Investment Network, an Australian-first initiative, for and by First Nations investors.
The U.S. Consulate General Perth and Minderoo Foundation are supporting the establishment of the groundbreaking program, led by a group of Australian First Nations investors wanting to fund early-stage and high-growth companies.
Known as the ‘Blak Angels,’ they will lead a delegation of 10 First Nations angel investors who will travel to the U.S. in September 2023 to meet with, and learn from Native American, Latino, and African American investors and other leaders in the U.S. investment ecosystem. The Australian delegates are from Perth, Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Darwin, Cairns and Kempsey.
Ten American investors, from states including Oklahoma and Arizona will also travel to locations throughout Australia in late 2023 to meet with the ‘Blak Angels’ and other Indigenous business leaders and organisations.
The project’s aim is to facilitate more investment into First Nations start-ups, thereby creating more jobs for First Nations people, and grow people-to-people connections and two-way investment between the U.S. and Australia. The Blak Angels Investment Network will increase Indigenous participation in investment, promoting economic development and empowerment.
Dr Andrew Forrest said Minderoo Foundation has a long and proud history of backing Indigenous business owners and First Nations entrepreneurs.
“Now, we want to empower those same successful businessmen and businesswomen to invest in the next generation of Indigenous businesses by becoming sophisticated investors themselves," Dr Forrest said.
“The Blak Angels can become a key component to ending disparity for Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islanders because research shows Indigenous businesses are up to 100 times more likely to hire an Indigenous employee than other businesses.
“Empowering these investors will lead to the jobs and working environments needed to create more prosperous First Nations communities.”
U.S. Ambassador to Australia Caroline Kennedy added the Blak Angels Investment Network is a tangible demonstration of the U.S. and Australia working together to create economic opportunities for underrepresented communities.
“Through these exchanges, investors will gain knowledge, experience, and the people-to-people ties that underpin successful businesses - all of which will expand First Nations investor ecosystems in both our countries,” Ms Kennedy said.”
Blak Angels Executive and Founding Member Morgan Coleman said he is proud to be part of this delegation and to be supporting the growth of First Nations businesses.
“I have experienced first-hand the challenges and barriers faced by Indigenous Australians in starting a business, so to play a role in leading the next generation of entrepreneurs is a great privilege.
“There is growing momentum in the First Nations business sector and an initiative like Blak Angels will help to provide opportunities for First Nations investors and build more capacity within our communities.”
For further information visit blakangels.org.
Andrew and Nicola Forrest donate one-fifth of Fortescue shareholding to philanthropy
Andrew and Nicola Forrest have given nearly A$5 billion more to their philanthropic foundation Minderoo, through a donation of 220 million Fortescue shares – one fifth of their shareholding.
The donation brings the Foundation’s endowment to about A$7.6 billion and enables the substantial investment to be deployed for greater public benefit. It continues the Forrests’ pledge to donate their material wealth – creating lasting change and the greatest possible good.
Minderoo Foundation will continue to grow its philanthropic work and be sustained for many decades to come, to help meet the huge challenges which society and humanity face. Minderoo’s soon to be announced 2030 Strategy will enable the Foundation to deepen its focus and make a greater impact in the face of looming global challenges such as climate change and economic disruption.
“As our world faces enormous challenges, we have elected to continue to use our material wealth to help humanity and the environment meet these existential risks,” Dr Andrew Forrest AO said.
“Accumulating wealth should only be a small part of a person. Their contribution to their family and society is way more important. Other skills such as carpentry, farming, the arts, working in construction or for government are equally as important. If you happen to be good at accumulating wealth, then I believe in using that skill for the greater good.
“This is why we will continue to donate our wealth to causes where we can make a sustainable difference.”
Nicola Forrest AO said the latest donation will directly result in real change for Minderoo’s beneficiaries.
“These are tough times for many Australians, and of course for many people right around the world. I believe we all need to do what we can with what we have, so I am pleased that the transfer of these shares will escalate our efforts to help those who need it most,” Mrs Forrest said.
“From the outset and over the past 22 years, we have remained focused on supporting families to ensure every child has the opportunity to thrive and reach their full potential – as children are our future.
“This donation is a further expression of our unwavering passion to help and in conjunction with our new strategy, will see Minderoo provide more significant support in a focused manner, empower our partners to deliver change and ignite collective and purposeful action, including for vulnerable communities, our oceans and gender equality.”
In 2013, the Forrests were the first Australians to sign the Giving Pledge, committing to give away the vast majority of their wealth in their lifetimes.
New report links compounding global crises to modern slavery
The Global Slavery Index reveals the number of people living in modern slavery has grown since 2018 against a backdrop of increasing and more complex conflicts, widespread environmental degradation, climate-induced migration, a global rollback of women’s rights, and the economic and social impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The latest Global Slavery Index, produced by human rights group Walk Free, reveals the 10 countries with the highest prevalence of modern slavery are North Korea, Eritrea, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Türkiye, Tajikistan, United Arab Emirates, Russia, Afghanistan, and Kuwait.
“Modern slavery permeates every aspect of our society. It is woven through our clothes, lights up our electronics, and seasons our food. At its core, modern slavery is a manifestation of extreme inequality. It is a mirror held to power, reflecting who in any given society has it and who does not. Nowhere is this paradox more present than in our global economy through transnational supply chains,” said Founding Director of Walk Free, Grace Forrest.
The report highlights the role played by G20 nations in fuelling forced labour within global supply chains, including state-imposed forced labour. The G20 accounts for over half of all people living in modern slavery and imports US$468 billion of at-risk products annually. The United States was by far the biggest importer of at-risk products (US$169.6 billion). Electronics remained the highest value at-risk product (US$243.6 billion), followed by garments (US$147.9 billion), palm oil (US$19.7 billion), solar panels (US$14.8 billion), and textiles (US$12.7 billion).
The report revealed six G20 nations are among the countries with the largest number of people in modern slavery, India (11 million), China (5.8 million), Russia (1.9 million), Indonesia (1.8 million), Türkiye (1.3 million) and the United States (1.1 million).
The report also shows how climate change has exacerbated modern slavery, forcing millions of people to migrate in unplanned ways putting them at higher risk of exploitation. Increasingly intense weather events are displacing communities and spurring risks of modern slavery; while sectors at high risk of forced labour, such as mining, logging, and textile/garment manufacturing, contribute to climate degradation. There is increasing evidence that renewable industries, vital for transitioning to clean energy, are reliant on forced labour.
Since 2018 the number of people living in modern slavery has increased to 50 million, but government action has stagnated, particularly among those with traditionally stronger responses. The global community is even further from achieving the goals they agreed to make a priority; no government is on track to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goal 8.7 of ending modern slavery, forced labour, and human trafficking by 2030.
In recent years, Australia, Canada, Germany, and Norway have introduced legislation to hold business and government accountable for exploitation that occurs in global supply chains. While a step in the right direction, G20 countries should be using their leverage to move from intention to real action.
Forrest added: “With 50 million people living in modern slavery today, this Global Slavery Index demands immediate action. Walk Free is calling on governments around the world to step up their efforts to end modern slavery on their shores and in their supply chains. We know the scale of the issue and have the knowledge and the policies needed to act. What we need now is political will.”
The report calls on governments around the world to immediately take the following five key actions:
- Implement stronger measures to combat forced labour in public and private supply chains by introducing legislation to stop governments and businesses from sourcing goods or services linked to modern slavery.
- Embed anti-slavery measures in humanitarian and crisis responses, and ensure that human rights are embedded in efforts to build a green economy.
- Prioritise human rights when engaging with repressive regimes, by conducting due diligence to ensure that any trade, business, or investment is not contributing to or benefitting from state-imposed forced labour, including where it occurs in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China.
- Focus on prevention and protection for vulnerable populations by providing primary and secondary education for all children, including girls.
- Ensure effective civil and criminal protections in legislation to tackle forced and child marriage, including raising the age of marriage to 18 for girls and boys, with no exceptions.
For more information, please visit www.walkfree.org/global-slavery-index
Vision for Paula Fox Melanoma and Cancer centre edges closer to reality
The building structure of Melbourne’s Paula Fox Melanoma and Cancer Centre has reached its highest point, marking a major milestone for a centre due to open in 2024.
The Paula Fox Melanoma and Cancer Centre has hit a significant construction milestone ahead of its 2024 opening, with the seventh – and highest – floor now complete for a building where breakthrough technology will deliver cutting-edge cancer care.
At an event on 13 June to mark the milestone, philanthropist Paula Fox, her son Andrew and the Victorian Health Minister Mary-Anne Thomas joined project partners including Minderoo Foundation and Monash University.
Minderoo Foundation is a proud partner in the $152.4-million St Kilda Road centre next to The Alfred Hospital, where specialists and multi-disciplinary teams will work together under one roof to improve care and outcomes for skin cancer and melanoma patients.
“Minderoo Foundation strongly believes in the power of philanthropic donations working alongside government funding – and the Paula Fox Melanoma and Cancer Centre demonstrates this beautifully,” said Professor Claire Wakefield.
“As part of our mission to help make cancer non-lethal within a generation, we’re thrilled to support the transformation of Paula Fox’s dream into a reality which promises to enhance the lives of so many Australians.”
Designed to promote a holistic approach to care, the purpose-built centre will integrate technology to break down barriers to care and promote early detection.
Minderoo Foundation is establishing the Minderoo Centre for Digital Innovation in Cancer Care and Clinical Research, which will develop and apply new technologies and artificial intelligence to accelerate research and improve cancer care to benefit patients.
“We’re also supporting the establishment of a world-leading wellness and education centre, which will empower patients and their families with the knowledge and comprehensive support they need throughout their cancer journey,” said Professor Wakefield.
Backed by the Victorian Government, Federal Government, Monash University, Paula Fox and the Fox Family, Minderoo Foundation, and other generous philanthropists, the centre is named after Mrs Fox, who said: “This is for the people – not just in Victoria, but Australia – and it will save lives.”
The support of project partners will help The Alfred redefine the delivery of cancer care, said Alfred Health chief executive Professor Andrew Way AM.
“What we plan to do here will bring research outcomes directly from the bench to the bedside,” he said. “This work, and our partnerships, are a national effort as we band together to battle Australia’s cancer (melanoma) as well as other rarer cancers.”
A feature of the build is the installation of 1000 glass panels, weighing up to 700kg each, to create a skin-like façade on the structure.
The Plastic Forecast App
Plastic breaks down into tiny particles in our environment, including our atmosphere. These are constantly falling to the ground, even more so when captured in rain.
The Plastic Forecast combines research on atmospheric plastic dynamics  with traditional weather forecasts to estimate the daily ‘plastic fall’ in an easy-to-understand weather report for Paris to visualise the extent and weight of the problem.
While the figures in the report were predominantly based on fiber shaped micro particles, the latest studies are finding more types, shapes, and smaller plastic particles. It is therefore sadly very likely that the actual amount of plastic being deposited is much higher than the Plastic Forecast estimates.
Our atmosphere contains plastic particles that fall to the ground consistently – even more so when it rains. ‘Plastic rain’ is a global issue.
The study confirms plastic particles in our atmosphere are constantly being deposited on ground, even without rainfall. This is why, even at 0% chance of precipitation, there will always be ‘plastic rain’ to report.
Plastic is falling all the time, all over the world.
1. Dris, R., Gasperi, J., Tassin, B. (2018). Sources and Fate of Microplastics in Urban Areas: A Focus on Paris Megacity. In: Wagner, M., Lambert, S. (eds) Freshwater Microplastics . The Handbook of Environmental Chemistry, vol 58. Springer, Cham. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-61615-5_4
XPRIZE launches competition to end extreme bushfire events
The 4-year competition will award A$16M to innovate bushfire detection and rapid response technologies.
XPRIZE, the world’s leader in designing and operating incentive competitions to solve humanity’s grand challenges, has launched XPRIZE Wildfire, a four-year competition that will award A$16 million to competing teams that will innovate firefighting technologies and end destructive bushfires.
Extreme bushfires are increasing in number and severity in Australia and globally causing devastating effects on lives, livelihoods and landscapes. The Black Summer bushfires doubled Australia’s carbon emissions and researchers estimate it could take 20 years for the atmosphere to reabsorb the carbon.
In addition, 33 people tragically lost their lives. 450 people have since died due to smoke related illness and many more still experience mental health issues today. 35 million hectares burned and 3 billion animals perished. Despite these enormous ongoing impacts, fire management technologies have not evolved in decades and best practices have not changed in almost a century.
“We have been fighting wildfires the same way for decades – it’s not working, and the destruction is getting increasingly worse. We need a radical re-invention of how we detect and battle these blazes,” said Peter H. Diamandis, Executive Chairman of the Board, XPRIZE. “The convergence of exponential technologies such as AI, robotics, drones, and sensors offer us the opportunity to detect wildfires at inception, and put them out in minutes before they spread – that’s the mission of this XPRIZE.”
XPRIZE Wildfire aims to unearth new technologies that will improve detection, monitoring and swift suppression of dangerous bushfires, ultimately aiming to prevent another Black Summer witnessed in Australia in 2019-20.
“We are calling on Australian scientists, engineers and startups specialising in robotics, autonomous systems, earth observation, AI, sensors, satellite communications and related fields to enter this competition to solve this local and global problem,” said Minderoo Foundation’s Adrian Turner.
“Australia is a country of innovators. From the black box, to Wi-Fi, to robotics used for mining and space exploration, to the cochlear implant and more – there is no reason that Australian teams can’t be leaders in applying emerging technologies to solve this global problem that is all too relevant for Australians.”
XPRIZE Wildfire will incentivise teams from around the world to innovate across a wide range of technologies in two complementary tracks designed to transform how fires are detected, managed and fought.
- In the Space-Based Wildfire Detection & Intelligence track, teams will have one minute to accurately detect all fires across a landscape larger than entire states or countries, and 10 minutes to precisely characterise and report data with the least false positives to two ground stations.
- In the Autonomous Wildfire Response track, teams have 10 minutes to autonomously detect and suppress a high-risk fire in a 1,000 km2, environmentally challenging area, leaving any decoy fires untouched.
The Lockheed Martin Accurate Detection & Intelligence Bonus Prize will be awarded for innovations in accurate and precise detection of wildfires.
Research by the Australian National University has found that early fire detection could reduce bushfire costs in Australia by up to $8.2 billion over the next 30 years.
Dr Karen O’Connor said, “Every state in Australia experiences extreme bushfires. We are a vast country and we can’t rely on fires to be detected in plain sight. We need real time space-based detection so firefighters can have information that will enable them to prioritise their resources to suppress these dangerous fires and above all keep communities safe.”
The New South Wales Rural Fire Service is working with Minderoo Foundation and XPRIZE to test the technologies as part of the competition. Rob Rogers, NSW RFS Commissioner said, “Early detection and response are crucial for optimal outcomes in protecting communities. It is vital that fire agencies continue to assess and adopt new technologies to ensure they are ready for future extreme fire seasons. XPRIZE Wildfire provides a great opportunity to see the exciting future of firefighting.”
XPRIZE Wildfire is offered in partnership with Co-Title Sponsors Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), Presenting Sponsor Minderoo Foundation, Bonus Prize Sponsor Lockheed Martin and Supporting Sponsors Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, and benefactors Nichola Eliovits and Michael Antonov.
Global collaborators from the U.S. Fire Administration / FEMA, the Aspen Institute, NASA, New South Wales Rural Fire Service, the Australian Space Agency, USDA Forest Service, the XPRIZE Biodiversity and Conservation Brain Trust, and XPRIZE Wildfire Advisory Board were instrumental in the launch of XPRIZE Wildfire and will have continued involvement over the course of the competition.
Register a team to compete, learn more and get involved at xprize.org/wildfire
Quotes from Australia’s Chief Scientist and Fire Agencies
Dr Cathy Foley, Australia’s Chief Scientist
“Many Australian communities have experienced the devastating impact of extreme weather events including bushfires in recent years. Natural disasters take an awful toll on lives and livelihoods and cost the Australian economy billions every year.
“Science and research are powerful tools to help communities avoid the worst impacts of bushfires, from innovative building materials and community planning, right through to fire modelling, prediction, tracking and behaviour technologies.
“Australia is at the forefront of many emerging technologies that will help build resilience, but it takes a collaborative approach. I welcome the XPRIZE Wildfire initiative as an example of the private sector looking for ways to accelerate innovation in this field.”
Rob Webb, CEO, Australasian Fire and Emergency Services Council (AFAC)
“As our fire seasons get longer and stronger, firefighters will need every tool possible to help keep our communities safe.
“Innovation will accelerate our path to new capabilities and using remote sensing to detect and diagnose fires as early as possible could make the difference.
“We look with great interest as the next generation of fire detection unfolds before us.”
ACT – Rohan Scott AFSM, Chief Officer ACT Rural Fire Service (ACT RFS)
“The early detection of dangerous fires is critical to minimising impacts on our people, our land, and the environment. The benefits will be seen in the suppression of fires, but also right through to timely community notifications, warnings and alerts.
“Accurately understanding the location and scale of an incident in near real-time supports better resourcing, and ultimately minimises the imposition on volunteers and their families, all of whom give up valuable time to keep their communities safe.”
VIC – Jason Heffernan, Chief Officer, Country Fire Authority (CFA)
”We welcome advances in science and innovation that result in a reduction in time between fires starting and having our resources suppress them. Initial attack is a critical phase to keep fires small in order to prevent negative community consequences.”
QLD – Greg Leach, Commissioner, Queensland Fire and Emergency Service (QFES)
“We recognise the challenges associated with intensifying fire seasons and conditions, and we are always looking at whatever ways we can improve our firefighting capabilities.
“Part of this is acknowledging the importance of innovation, technology and modern systems that assist fire services everywhere to keep their communities safe, and XPRIZE Wildfire provides an exciting look at what the future of firefighting can be.”
TAS – Dermont Barry, Chief Officer Tasmania Fire Service (TFS)
“The impact from bushfires can be significant and enduring, and in the face of climate change this risk continues to rise. Indeed, the widespread and permanent destruction to Tasmanian’s communities and world heritage area in 2016 is a poignant example of this risk and the challenges faced by fire agencies.
“The early fire detection and monitoring provided by space-based technologies will significantly enhance our intelligence capabilities, improving our ability to protect people, property, and those natural and cultural values of universal significance.”
SA – Brett Loughlin, Chief Officer South Australian Country Fire Service (CFS)
“Australia’s changing climate, increasing exposure to natural hazards and increasing expectations of the role of Government in managing emergencies is placing higher levels of expectation on the South Australian Country Fire Service and other emergency services to protect communities and manage major emergencies and disasters.
“The SACFS expects the coming fire seasons will test the capacity and capability of fire services, to be able to respond earlier to an event will go a long way to mitigating the risks the future pose.”
NSW – Jeremy Fewtrell, Commissioner, Fire and Rescue New South Wales (FRNSW)
“Fire and Rescue NSW enthusiastically embraces new technology to improve firefighting and emergency response efforts.
“We are very proud of our current ‘Connected Firefighter’ program that’s introducing terrific new communications advancements across our business.
“We encourage and support the innovators participating in the XPRIZE Wildfire competition and eagerly await their fresh concepts and ideas.”
World-first selective breeding of Ningaloo corals to fight impacts of climate change
For the first time ever, a team of international researchers led by Minderoo Foundation has conducted selective breeding of Ningaloo corals off Australia’s North West in response to predicted mass coral bleaching due to rising sea temperatures.
The Minderoo Foundation program on the World Heritage-listed Ningaloo coast is a pre-emptive response to the mass bleaching which has already impacted the Great Barrier Reef.
Principal Researcher at Minderoo Exmouth Research Laboratory, Dr Kate Quigley, led the research team of 10 Australian and international scientists at Ningaloo for the annual mass spawning event.
Dr Quigley, a molecular ecologist who has previously bred coral than can survive 26-times better under elevated temperatures, hopes to cross-breed Ningaloo corals that will have a higher chance of survival in warmer temperatures.
“This technique is known as assisted gene flow,” Dr Quigley said. “It’s basically selective breeding, choosing the mums and dads of the same coral species during the mass spawning event that happens on Ningaloo and we’re able to identify the tough mums and tough dads to try to get tough babies that can survive better under warming conditions.”
The researchers chose corals from different sites along the Ningaloo coast based on the water temperature.
“We try to find sites that are really warm and highly variable and that’s where we find our heat tolerant corals and then we also go to coral sites that have lower temperatures, that have potentially less resilient corals,” Dr Quigley said.
“We collected corals that are ready to release their egg sperm bundles and bring them back to the Minderoo Exmouth Research Lab, a bespoke facility with a full team, where we are able to replicate the natural conditions and keep them comfortable so they will breed.
“After the spawning we’ve had baby corals, or larvae, in high-tech tanks and put them through a series of temperature experiments to see, of these individuals we’ve bred, who are the elite athletes – who are the ones that can really perform under high temperature and then we can use genetic techniques over the coming months to query what genes are responsible for these elite athletes,” Dr Quigley explained.
Dr Marie Strader, who heads up the Marine Molecular Ecology Strader lab at Texas A&M University in the United States, is collaborating with Dr Quigley in Exmouth looking at the genetic components of thermal tolerance in larvae and adult Ningaloo reef corals.
“We can actually look at the genome and look at how genes are turned on and off and particular patterns to give us clues about how these larvae are actually thermal tolerant at the molecular level,” Dr Strader said.
Masters student Alex Lago from Germany’s University of Bremen is also working with Dr Quigley on this world-leading research.
“The Ningaloo reef is the largest fringing reef system in the world and it harbours really high biodiversity and just as a unique ecosystem, we want to try and understand as much as we can so we can preserve that for future generations,” Ms Lago said.
Over the next year the researchers hope to understand if the assisted gene flow conservation technique could help to future-proof Ningaloo reef against mass bleaching events which are predicted to increase in frequency.
7-year-old Molly reveals how peek-a-boo can change the world in new TED talk
Minderoo Foundation has partnered with TED and UNICEF to showcase Minderoo’s global mission to raise awareness about the importance of brain development in the first five years.
A ground-breaking TED Talk by a 7-year-old girl is set to change the way parents and caregivers around the world view early childhood brain development and how adults interact with children.
Molly Wright, a Grade 2 student from Queensland, Australia, today became one of the youngest TED speakers in history after her talk premiered at TED’s Session Zero in Monterey, California, USA, and was simultaneously sent around the world via TED.com.
Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Michael Gracey (director of The Greatest Showman), Molly’s TED Talk demonstrates the simple yet life-changing things we can all do to help children thrive.
Molly’s TED Talk was brought to life by Minderoo Foundation, one of Australasia’s largest philanthropic organisation.
In the lead up to today’s global launch, Molly’s TED Talk was shown to new parents in maternity wards in Australia (through Ramsay Health Care) and Afghanistan (via Bayat Foundation) as part of a pilot – with plans to have the film shown in more hospitals around the world.
UNICEF is supporting with global distribution of the film.
Leading philanthropist and Minderoo Foundation Co-Chair Nicola Forrest AO said it was one of Minderoo Foundation’s focus areas to ensure every child, no matter where they grow up or who their parents are, has an equal chance to reach their full potential.
“We believe every child can, and should, thrive by the age of five,” Mrs Forrest said. “Science tells us that the volume of a child’s brain has reached 90 per cent by the age of five so we want to help set parents up for success and increase awareness of the importance of having positive interactions with children – early and often.
“Molly beautifully delivers this universal truth – that the early years are the most critical period for shaping a child’s life now, and in their future.”
Head of TED Chris Anderson said Molly’s message would resonate around the globe.
“I absolutely love this talk,” Mr Anderson said. “Ideas can come from anywhere. To hear a powerful idea like this spoken so eloquently by a child … Wow! This deserves a huge audience.”
Initial feedback from the first hospital pilots in Australia and Afghanistan has been heartening, with more than nine (9) out of 10 new mums and dads saying that the film has inspired them to connect, talk and play more with their kids in their early years. Nearly all viewers said they would want their friends and family to view the film.
“Molly’s TED Talk draws on the five top tips of connect, play, talk, healthy home and community, focusing on the simple and fun things we can do in a child’s first five years that will have a profound impact on their brain development and wellbeing,” Mrs Forrest said.
“Not only is this important information to share amongst parents and carers, but policymakers and world leaders.”
Quotes from our partners
Professor Desiree Silva, Head of Paediatrics, Joondalup Health Campus (Perth, Australia)
“The opportunity for us to share the film with patients in our Joondalup and Glengarry maternity wards and early parenting centre has been a real joy.
“The message to connect and play, early and often with children from birth to age five is vital in their development and overall wellbeing.
“New parents at our hospitals found the video educational, entertaining and inspiring.
“Molly’s TED Talk has the potential to improve the health outcomes for children on a global scale.”
Ms Mariam Bayat, Director, The Bayat Foundation
“Maternal and early childhood health has been a priority for the Bayat Foundation since our inception, and the opportunity to work in partnership with the Minderoo Foundation to launch Molly’s TED talk highlighting the importance of early childhood education in Afghanistan is a unique privilege for us and serves a compelling need in our country.
“Sharing Molly’s TED Talk and the important lessons about positive engagement between parents and children in the critical early years of life will inspire Afghan mothers, fathers, and families to further instil critical thinking, emotional intelligence, inclusive communication, and collaborative problem-solving skills with their young children.
“We believe that this presentation will help give rise to thousands of Afghan “Mollys” in the years ahead – talented, confident, compassionate, positive, and emotionally secure Afghan children who will grow into the nation’s future doctors, educators, lawyers, and leaders, a tremendous resource for Afghanistan and a lasting tribute to the impact that passionate philanthropic organisations – Afghan and Australian – can achieve in the near and medium-term despite the daily challenges in our nation today.”
Mr Justin Graham, Group CEO, M&C Saatchi AUNZ
“The M&C Saatchi Group is incredibly proud to be a part of this initiative with Minderoo, Australia’s largest philanthropic agency, and the talented team at production company – FINCH.
“Molly’s TED Talk will be launched via social media, in hospitals around the world, and will be supported by a global launch strategy to connect the content to the right people at the right moments.
“Minderoo is an organisation that is creating change on a global level, and we are delighted that we are able to partner with them to realise their ambitions through creative thinking.”
Mr Rob Galluzzo, CEO, FINCH
“We’re excited to see the difference that this film makes over the years to come. It’s been a pleasure to work with world-class partners such as Minderoo Foundation, M&C Saatchi and TED to capture a discussion that will change parents, guardians, their children and future generations.”
TED is a nonprofit organisation devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading, often in the form of short talks delivered by leading thinkers and doers. Many of these talks are given at TED conferences, intimate TED Salons and thousands of independently organised TEDx events around the world. Videos of these talks are made available, free, on TED.com and other platforms. Audio versions of TED Talks are published to TED Talks Daily, available on all podcast platforms.
TED’s open and free initiatives for spreading ideas include TED.com, where new TED Talk videos are posted daily; TEDx, which licenses thousands of individuals and groups to host local, self-organised TED-style events around the world; the TED Fellows program, which selects innovators from around the globe to amplify the impact of their remarkable projects and activities; The Audacious Project, which surfaces and funds critical ideas that have the potential to impact millions of lives; TED Translators, which crowdsources the subtitling of TED Talks so that big ideas can spread across languages and borders; and the educational initiative TED-Ed.
TED also offers TED@Work, a program that reimagines TED Talks for workplace learning. TED also has a growing library of original podcasts, including The TED Interview with Chris Anderson, WorkLife with Adam Grant, Far Flung with Saleem Reshamwala and How to Be a Better Human.