Goal 14: Life Below Water

The University of Wollongong is committed to working towards the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through its governance, teaching and learning, community engagement, partnerships and research. The following initiatives are by UOW staff and students working towards SDG 14: Life Below Water.

Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources & Security

Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources & Security (ANCORS) is the only multidisciplinary university-based centre of its type in the Southern Hemisphere dedicated to delivering specialised research, advisory services, education and training in ocean law and policy, maritime security, and marine resources management.

ANCORS website The Stand

Dark fishing fleets in North Korea

Professor Quentin Hanich, Fisheries Governance Program Leader from ANCORS co-authored ‘Illuminating Dark Fishing Fleets in North Korea’, a study revealing the largest known case of illegal fishing perpetrated by vessels originating from one country operating in another nation’s waters. The report released in 2020, was an international collaboration with scientists from South Korea, Japan, Australia and the United States. It found that more than 900 vessels of Chinese origin in 2017, and 700 in 2018, likely violated UN sanctions by fishing in North Korean waters. The vessels likely caught more than 160,000 metric tons worth over US $440 million in 2017-2018.

Sustainable, community-based fisheries

The project ‘Strengthening and scaling community-based approaches to Pacific coastal fisheries management in support of the New Song’ has undertaken outreach on sustainable community-based management of coastal fisheries with over 100 local communities in Kiribati, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. Outreach involves community awareness presentations, facilitation of development of community-based fisheries management plans, and training for community monitors to track fisheries catch in select sites with the goal to support adaptive management by communities.

Ocean Friendly Accreditation

UOW Pulse is recognised as a campus leader for implementing sustainable practices across the University’s food, beverage and retail outlets. The team received a Green Gown Award in 2018 and the Unibar is the first Australian University bar to receive ‘Ocean Friendly Accreditation’ in 2018.


ANCORS has supported the development and ongoing annual meeting of a Pacific ‘community-of-practice’ titled FishSMARD (Sustainable Management Approaches and Research Development for Fish). The annual meeting brings together a network of fisheries practitioners in the Pacific who are working to improve community-based sustainable fisheries management. It is an initiative to improve peer-to-peer dialogue, learning exchange and skills development.

Troubled Waters

Fish play a big role in the lives of people in Melanesia; coastal fisheries are not just a source of food and income, they are also central to cultural identity. ANCORS, together with Wan SmolBag, have developed a theatre play and associated community workshops with themes around sustainable fishing and caring for the marine environment.

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Southern NSW Blue Economy

This project aims to ‘take stock’ of the existing state of play in relation to Blue Economy opportunities focusing on five key areas: ocean accounts, spatial mapping, social and cultural values, the governing system and innovation. By exploring the concept of blue economies and creating an optimised example here on the South Coast of NSW the research aims to change the way the world uses its oceans to improve the lives of those dependent on it.

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We are looking to investigate how we can achieve sustainable development in a coastal context particularly in the Illawarra and southern New South Wales and we're looking at the all the changes that have taken place along the coast in recent years and that will take place in the future 

so the blue economy is a concept that has been gaining a huge amount of traction overseas and here in Australia and there's some challenges associated with that in terms of how it might be impacting on questions of equity justice and incorporating community ideas and aspirations. So we think it's really important to me thinking from a community perspective about what the blue economy should look like.

So my part of the project is really about bringing in Indigenous perspectives across the whole research project to say what does it mean to aboriginal people and our values and where are we going with the economic development in the blue economy. For the Land Council being a partner of the University is important. We can show how we can lead together, the collaboration is something that will richen the experience for all. I think that bringing Aboriginal perspectives into the way research is undertaken by the university is going to add value back into that sphere but then to get access to the people with expertise in the blue economy is going to add value to our role as custodians of this land. 

So we have done network analysis in the past to look at how the innovators interact with each other, government and authorities. We’re gonna build on that to provide a platform for the innovators to the keep in touch better and to be more effective in bringing innovation. We are building sensors and a database to house the data, to bring much-needed water quality data so scattered at the minute and we’d like to make that publicly available more comprehensive. 

Well whenever you looking at coastal ocean problems you need to look at those problems from the perspective of a number of different disciplines. So we need to take into account the science view, the legal view, the social sciences and indeed the creative arts that interpret coastal and marine environments for the community at large. 

So an ideal world is one where we focus on common ideas. common goals and aspirations rather than areas of conflict and division, and we are really hoping that the blue futures model helps to focus how we can develop sustainable development opportunities in our oceans that provide for economic benefits but also for social equity, justice and environmental sustainability.

Transmedia narratives

This project explores narratives and visual representations of a Blue Economy. The research aims to use transmedia mapping to draw connections between human engagements with the south coast and the stories, systems, and practices that shape human‐ocean relations locally. The research team is investigating the ways cultural expression such as art and writing represent the ocean and create community, define public and private space, and helps shape the rhetoric and decision-making involving the ocean’s stewardship.

Heavy metal pollution

Heavy metals are a major anthropogenic contaminant of estuarine and coastal ecosystems in Australia. The Heavy Metals Pollution research team is using an integrated approach to minimising the impact of heavy metals on public health and ecosystems, improving quality of life. The project employs a number of advanced scientific and technical tools to understand the mechanisms of the removal of heavy metals, establishing unique links between fundamental and applied research.

If you know of a UOW project or initiative that's working toward this SDG please let us know. For more information email sdgs-uow@uow.edu.au.

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