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Dr Savage regularly discusses his work with
groups that promote the uptake of science
by young Australians and answers questions
about his own career path. This started with a
degree in agricultural science at the University
another later in Queensland. A national
committee was formed some time later
because the problem of acid sulfate soils and
their impact became a national concern.
Environmental plans have since been
developed not only for the local region, but
also at a national level.
The National Strategy for the Management
of Coastal Acid Sulfate Soils is considered critical
to resolving acid sulfate soil issues affecting
industrial, environmental, agricultural and
Development proposals in the coastal zone
must now consider acid sulfate soils as a risk
factor. Many coastal councils across Australia
have developed policies and procedures to
assess the risks associated with developing acid
This research has led to substantial changes
in environmental policy, land management
practices and community awareness that
are still ongoing since Dr Sammut’s and Dr
Callinan’s work in the 1990s.
It has also triggered the provision of funding
for further research—for example on oysters—
that will benefit the Australian environment,
commercial and recreational fishing and the
The research also led to major projects in
Indonesia, where acid sulfate soils are a threat
to the livelihoods of coastal communities and
to important outputs for various aquaculture
reconstruction projects in Aceh following the
Dr Sammut says that research activities
in developing countries provide valuable
experience on topics of practical importance
to Australia. This is especially true for
aquaculture—broodstock and fingerling
management—since Australia uses some of the
same species, such as grouper and tiger shrimp.
Other impacts relate to experience and
knowledge gained on environmental and
production limits. This can involve issues such
as the types of environment that can sustain
agriculture or the optimal environmental
conditions and risk factors. Affected areas
include soil processes, rice and shrimp farming
practices, and farming fish in earthen ponds.
The costs of research can also be lower and
may even permit research that would not be
done at all in Australia.
“For example, aquaculture research is on the
decline here, so ACIAR can enable Australian
researchers to maintain and grow research
programs that bring benefits to our local
industries,” Dr Sammut says.
There are numerous examples of benefits
that reach Australia.
Several projects on shrimp, mollusc and fish
farming in vietnam, Indonesia and elsewhere
included studies of disease spread and
management. Gaining a better understanding
means Australia is better prepared to respond
to a disease outbreak, and also to have
improved quarantine protocols.
Shark research in Indonesia by CSIRO
assessed ocean stocks in internationally shared
waters to help avoid mismanagement by
overfishing. New shark and ray species were
discovered and this research led to a manual on
shark and ray species.
The manual enables more accurate
identification of sharks and rays. Similar
research on sustainably managing sharks will
soon commence in Papua New Guinea. It is
important for Australia to know which species
are out there and what is being fished (and
how) by our neighbours.
Australia plays an important role in
protecting these species, which are apex
predators at the top of the food chain.
Agreements need to be reached to allow the
equitable exploitation and proper management
of the species.
The ultimate results are a win–win: sustainable
fishing practices for our neighbours and a
positive environmental outcome for Australia. n
More information: national Strategy for the
Management of Coastal Acid Sulfate Soils,
of Queensland and has included stints as a
jackaroo, running research programs in the
Northern Territory’s Barkly Tableland, and
completing doctoral studies on beef cattle
nutrition and reproduction. n
For d r darryl Savage a career in science as a
cattle researcher proved more satisfying as a
result of working on an ACIAr project.
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