Report on the Workshop on Remote Sensing Resources for Marine Management

Institute of Research and Development (IRD)
Noumea, New Caledonia
25-27 September, 2001

Workshop Objectives

The Workshop planned to:

  • Identify remotely sensed data sources, their quality and utility for application to the marine environment,

  • Achieve an understanding of the relationship of remotely-sensed information to the physical and biogeochemical properties of the marine environment.

  • Develop an appreciation of the approaches applied to these data sources to convert them into spatial-temporal information database for application to management of the marine environment, and

  • Gain experience in the development of management strategies through analysing case studies and the formulation of ideas for addressing regional environmental problems.

Workshop Design

The Workshop set out initially to provide an understanding of the basic principles underlying remote sensing the oceans; that is, the physical and biological signatures in the marine environment that cause the radiometric (optical) signal received by the space-based sensor to respond. A series of case studies including coastal zone management and coral reef monitoring and management were provided. The data sets employed were described and their uses in management strategies were developed. Actual case study data were drawn upon from ongoing management programs conducted by the presenters.

Being a relatively new field, the exercise of care in the interpretation of products, such as ocean color, was stressed. The value of having local observers who have experience in the way systems in their region change seasonally and interannually was emphasised. Additionally, long-term and well-calibrated local observation were identified as important contributions to interpretation. The matter of compliance of observation techniques with established protocols was given attention and illustrated by example.

A computing laboratory was established and some sample data sets provided to illustrate the specific issues that evolved from discussions. Further, the SeaDAS software package had been installed on all the PCs. Students were taken through the processing sequences to the point where level 2 products were generated.

The Workshop concluded on the final day with a Panel Discussion that aimed to identify the priority areas where personnel in the Pacific region required training support both immediately and in the longer term.

A survey was conducted to ascertain feedback from the delegates on the Workshop. The key outcomes were that more time would be required to develop competence in the data staging and processing (many previously had not encountered Linux). Ait appeared that the Panel sessions in which more open discussions of regional issues took place was well received. There was a suggestion that more time on this aspect would have been appreciated since it enabled the delegates to engage more with issues of importance in their own region. The Workshop program is available at Appendix 1.


  • Dr Robert Frouin, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD, La Jolla, California - Optical remote sensing and in situ validation

  • Dr Cecile Dupouy, Research Scientist, IRD, Noumea - Remote sensing of the oceans; local issues; algal blooms

  • Dr Trevor Ward, Consultant in Marine Management, Perth, Australia - Marine management policy; coral reef management; marine ecosystem assessment.

  • Ms Lesley Clementson, CSIRO Marine Research, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia - Laboratory analysis: HPLC, spectrophotometry and protocols

  • Mr Peter Fearns, Research Scientist, Curtin University, Perth, Australia - Ocean colour algorithms; case studies in coastal management

  • Assoc Professor Mervyn Lynch, Curtin University, Perth, Australia - Ocean colour sensors; information resources; product integration

Workshop Delegates

All delegates were drawn from the Pacific nations and identified (with the assistance of SOPAC staff) from a proposal and CV prepared and submitted by the delegates. Eight delegates were supported by funds provided through IOC and IOCCG / SCOR. These were selected on the basis of some computer and data handling knowledge as well as a job description that had monitoring and management responsibilities. All sponsored delegates were required to have written approval from their agency in order to attend the Workshop. Other delegates attended on a self-funded basis. In all, there were 32 delegates drawn from management, environmental and fisheries agencies, mining industry, university, research laboratories and the local press/media.


  • Appreciation of ocean colour products and the potential to apply them to regional applications in the Pacific.

  • Understanding of the interpretation of ocean colour products and their interpretation.

  • Insights into the value of remotely sensed products in (i) coastal ecosystem management and (ii) the monitoring and management of coral reef systems.

  • Connection to a range of information sources on remotely sensed products, their interpretation and application.

  • Development of plans and priorities for future Workshops.


It was clear from interactions with delegates attending the Workshop that there was almost zero exposure to the use of physical and biological products marine remote sensing to support marine system management. There had been major achievements by SOPAC in promoting the use of GIS software and training in the region but this was more for mapping and industrial development purposes. It was also clear that while the Workshop had initiated interest in using remotely sensed data there needed to be more intensive training to build expertise to an acceptable level of competence and independence.

In summary:

  • There was a clear interest in further Workshops to develop the expertise of delegates to a higher level of independence.

  • There would be value in directing future courses at the solution of specific regional problems (eg the impact of coastal mining and the associated sediment transport into on regional environment).

  • Two projects identified by the delegates in the Panel sessions that were in need of immediate attention were (i) coastal management, particularly of coral reef systems and (ii)sustainable and efficient management of the tuna fishery.


IOC, Perth Regional Office provided sponsorship 8 pre-selected participants from the Pacific region. The other 32 delegates were self-supporting. IOC also supported the direct costs associated with the participation of Dr Ward, Ms Clementson, Mr Fearns and Associate Professor Lynch. The support included travel, accommodation and per diem. IOCCG provided support for Dr Robert Frouin to participate in the Workshop. Dr Wolf Forstreuter of SOPAC assisted with the identification election of delegates from the Pacific region nations. IRD made Dr Dupouy available to assist with local organizational matters including accommodation arrangements. IRD made available their Workshop Conference Room and audio / visual facilities as well as technical support to configure the workshop computers on their internal network. The IRD Director, Dr Colin, hosted a reception for the Workshop participants. Finally, Scripps, CSIRO, Curtin University, T Ward Consultants and IRD are acknowledged for granting their staff permission to participate in the Workshop.

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