South Australian 2019 Coastal Conference and the ACS AGM

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The SA branch of ACS held its biennial Coastal Conference in Adelaide in early November. The conference attended by around 130 delegates was officially opened by Kaurna elder Rod O’Brien, who also gave a ‘welcome to country ‘on behalf of the Kaurna people.

Six keynote speakers covered a broad range of coastal issues. Prof Andy Short (who has an OAM for his coastal work) gave an excellent overview of Australian coastal systems, the topic of his latest book (Springer, Sep 2019).  Two other keynote talks focused on NRM issues.  The first, by Dr Felicity-Ann Lewis, concentrated on the activities of the local Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges NRM.  The second by A/Prof Beverley Clarke, provided a comprehensive national perspective illustrating how changing politics and funding have altered the interaction between coastal management and NRM. Bev expressed concern about the reduced importance of the coast in the (then) proposed SA Landscape Bill. The week after the conference, the legislation was passed so it will be interesting to see how the new legislation impacts in practice on coastal resource management.

The SA Minister for the Environment, the Hon David Speirs, released the SA Blue Carbon Strategy, at the conference. This was followed by a biological/ecological focus of talks on the second day of the conference. Prof Michelle Waycott’s keynote address illustrated many of the research challenges dealing with the complexities of coastal restoration, particularly seagrasses. Martin Haese (CEO of the Premier’s Climate Change Committee) and Anita Crisp (CEO of the new SA Coastal Councils Alliance) both gave keynote talks which raised funding issues inter alia for coastal management. Martin stressed the increased importance of future coastal insurance costs associated with climate change, whereas Anita provided a stark reminder of the current funding crisis faced by the practical coastal management responsibilities of local councils.

Over two days, around 40 talks were delivered across a range of 7 different conference themes; coastal processes, gaps in coastal knowledge, blue carbon, coastal collaboration, coastal restoration, coastal conservation and coastal hazards. There was a high standard of talks and there has generally been very positive feedback from conference participants.

During the conference, the Annual General Meeting of ACS was held. The ACS Chair, Vice-Chair and Secretary were all in attendance. The AGM conducted via Zoom for non-Adelaide participants went smoothly and saw the election of 6 new ACS Directors (Thor Aaso, John Davis, Lisa Krynen, Rebecca Phyland, Carmen Elrick-Barr and Teresia Williams). Key activities for the new Board will be to update the ACS constitution and to oversee the delivery of the 2020 Coast to Coast Conference.  There is already a Coast to Coast 2020 organising committee chaired by Greg Stuart. The conference will be held in Cairns, 2020 at the Pullman International Hotel, 27-30 July (LINK). This may appeal to southern ACS members wanting to escape winter weather!

Nick Harvey   

Words by Prof Nick Harvey. Please respect the author's thoughts and reference appropriately: (c) ACS, 2019, for correspondence about this blog post please email austcoastsoc@gmail.com