Today's announcement of a new home for the Central Coast Marine Discovery Centre (CCMDC) is a welcome boost for local education and research.
As a partner in the CCMCD, the University of Newcastle welcomed the announcement that the former Terrigal Tourism Offices will become a working research hub linking the education, business and tourism sectors in the region.
Director of the University's research group for Sustainable Use of Coasts and Catchments, Associate Professor Bill Gladstone, said the CCMDC was a great opportunity for the Central Coast and will further build on the University's national and international reputation in marine research.
"The CCMDC will be recognised as a Centre of Excellence in research and education in temperate environments and will draw significant research capacity and students to the Central Coast. The Centre will be a fantastic asset for these endeavours.
"It will provide a unique field-study location for domestic and overseas students and visitors, and demonstrate best environmental practice in all of its activities.
Associate Professor Gladstone and his colleagues in the Faculty of Science and Information Technology are researching the biology of marine and estuarine organisms, the ecology of coastal lagoons, and the social impacts of marine resource management.
A key focus of the research will be the impacts of climate change on the marine environment and on the ways people use it.
Associate Professor Gladstone said the Central Coast was the ideal place to establish a centre of this kind.
"We have an open coastline, beaches, rocky shores, sub-tidal rocky reefs, coastal lagoons and estuaries all in a relatively small area.
"The Central Coast is home to many iconic marine species and valuable dive sites that offer a wealth of opportunity in helping us understand more about the local ecosystems.
"Combined, these attributes also demonstrate the need to protect our marine environment and ensure its ongoing sustainability."
The concept of a marine centre based on the Central Coast has been in development for more than five years. In 2006 a working group was formed involving the Community Environment Network; the University; federal, state and local government; local business and tourism operators.
Having established a successful temporary Centre at Crown Plaza Terrigal in January this year, the new facility is expected to open in time for the October school holidays.