The Ocean Wilderness Group's Inland and ocean waters ecology solutions focus is upon physical contaminant cycles and marine and associated life degradation remediation research and the practical ecosystems rehabilitation. Ecosystem assessment, quantitative analysis and formal synthesis of information on relevant natural and societal factors, in relation to specified ecosystem management objectives are recognised as a critical step in conservation-planning processes. Designing, developing and progressing ocean ecosystem remediation and rehabilitation requires comprehensive holistic ecosystem assessments to characterise specific planning meet specified societal and ecological goals. 

The imperative development of vertically integrated local and regional assessments must include:

  • existing biological, chemical, physical, human and historical characteristics,
  • identification of sensitive habitats and unique ecosystems,
  • identification of human activities needs areas and impacts,
  • analyses of ecosystem conditions, and
  • empirically supported forecasts, and modelling of cumulative impacts and solutions.

 The Ocean Wilderness Group, focused upon sustainable ocean ecology solutions through practical science, a science based practical over technical solutions delivery ecological consultancy was founded by Wayne Sampey in 1999 to deliver difficult marine environment solutions to the Pacific region. The team provide full-service assessment, remediation rehabilitation and future proofing approaches to marine floor, coastal habitat and demersal and pelagic species development and prosperity. Works have included seafloor designs, seagrass, reef, tidal flats, lagoon and species rehabilitation and blue carbon sequestration development. 

The Yamatji/Shark Bay Sea Grass Indigenous Carbon Sequestration Project (CFI) Brief.

Mangrove forests, seagrass beds and salt marshes possess a huge carbon storage capacity, which scientific opinion indicates can be used to mitigate climate change. Known as marine or ‘blue carbon’, this resource should be expediently quantified and sold on international carbon trading markets as an Indigenous Carbon Initiative. The Ocean Wilderness Group and the Yamatji People developed methodologies and strategies for the commercial management of the seagrass biomass and an Indigenous business Carbon Farming Initiative that both sustainably managed to seagrass habitats and utilised their natural abilities in commercial models.

Mangrove forests, seagrass beds and salt marshes may generally cover only around 0.5% of the seabed, but they account for some 70% of the ocean's carbon storage capacity. These three marine environments soak up and store carbon dioxide in their biomass and sediments, where it is locked up for centuries. Together with the carbon held in the rest of the ocean, this is known as 'blue carbon'. Marine or ‘blue carbon’ is a new strategic approach to make use of the large carbon capture and storage potential of coastal ecosystems and should be an Indigenous allotted business initiative. This carbon could be quantified and sold on international carbon trading markets, to fund Indigenous and remote communities, and environmental preservation and restoration projects, which could also assist in the capture of more carbon and ease the effects of climate change. Apart from sequestering carbon quicker than the same area of rainforests can, these three ecosystems provide other 'ecoservices', which are especially valuable for vulnerable coastal communities. These include food and energy, protecting shorelines from flood and erosion, filtering water, and recreation and tourism.

Globally it is considered that aquaculture, agricultural development and pollution are now responsible for loss of these marine ecosystems at a rate of up to four times that of rainforest loss. Around 20% of mangroves and more than 50% of seagrass ecosystems have been lost in the last 25 years, and salt marshes are being lost at a rate 1 to 2% per year. Because of the vast amount of carbon stored in mangroves, the global emissions from mangrove deforestation account for around 10% of all emissions from deforestation, despite making up just 0.7% of tropical forest area, (700 tonnes per hectare from soil sequestration alone). Some of the coastal ecosystems are up to 50 or even 75 times more efficient than a same type of area of land in terms of sequestering carbon, and that creates a significant opportunity, but it's one that as yet has not been taken effective advantage of. A new research initiative was launched at the Eye on Earth summit in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates to understand how the marine or ‘blue carbon’ strategy would work. This will feed into the negotiations for the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development Rio+20 in Brazil later this year. According to the organisations driving it, Conservation International, IUCN and UNESCO, this is the first global initiative to mitigate climate change through the conservation and restoration of coastal marine ecosystems.

Marine or ‘blue carbon’ initiatives can link ecoservices, including but not exclusively carbon storage, with market-based payment mechanisms to help mitigate and adapt to climate change, conserve biodiversity, and ensure sustainable delivery of those ecosystem services to people. But one of the key problems with linking economics of marine or ‘blue carbon’ trading with marine conservation is a lack of comparable baseline data on blue carbon. This 'data deficiency' is a key barrier to effective planning and decision-making in the coastal and marine environment. It currently hampers the inclusion of these environments into international conventions and financing mechanisms that exist for land habitats, such as forests through the U.N.'s Program on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (REDD). It is about developing policy options. The seagrass biomass in Shark Bay can potentially sequester $7 billion per annum in carbon offsets. There are currently no internationally accepted methodologies for assessing carbon sequestration by salt marshes, sea grasses and 'below-ground' parts of mangroves. And there is still uncertainty about the exact sequestration rates for the three ecosystems; this is why the Yamatji Shark Bay Project is of such importance. It will develop methodology, present solutions and create Indigenous prosperity platforms.