Investing in our future with new IMAS partnership

TasPorts is partnering with IMAS on a research project to develop living seawalls – a nature-based solution to combat invasive marine species while promoting native biodiversity in ports.


10 July 2024

TasPorts is partnering with IMAS on a Tasmanian first to mitigate invasive marine species through eco-engineering solutions.

TasPorts’ Acting Chief Executive Trent Burke said globally port infrastructure can serve as biodiversity hot-spots, and if not managed sustainably can inadvertently attract invasive species allowing them to breed and spread.

“As part of TasPorts EcoPorts approach we are partnering with IMAS to support a PhD student to undertake a three-year research project to develop a bespoke eco-engineering solution for our port infrastructure to promote biodiversity, while mitigating the potential colonisation of invasive marine species,” he said.

“This will aim to be achieved through living seawalls, which create habitats that enhance our native biodiversity and are less favourable to invasive species,” he said.

“For example, increasing complexity through the use of panels, seeding with habitat-forming organisms such as bivalves and seaweeds, but importantly tailored to the location by assessing the abundance of native species associated with both natural and artificial structures in the region.

“The panels are uniquely designed to mimic a variety of natural shoreline habitats, encouraging seaweed to grow and to serve as a refuge to local marine species.

“Not only can living seawalls help native species to thrive, they also play a role in improving water quality.”

Living seawalls have been successfully introduced in locations across Australia and overseas, including Sydney, Port Adelaide, Townsville and Freemantle, as well as Singapore and Wales.

The PhD student’s research will include: comprehensive research to identify native and invasive species inhabiting artificial structures local to the Port of Hobart; determining their environmental tolerances; engaging with key stakeholders; identifying target native species; developing and field testing an engineering prototype; and evaluating success factors.

Applications are being sought now, with the successful applicant to be identified by the end of the year, with the project to commence in 2025.