Spencer Gulf is one of the most important economic development areas in South Australia. It is the subject of a major initiative, the Spencer Gulf Ecosystem and Development Initiative. The Initiative, led by the Environment Institute aims to help facilitate change and maintain the integrity of the Gulf, and is a multi year program delivering:

  • Clearer approval pathways with potential to reduce costs and time delays thus greatly assisting economic development.

  • Information, data, tools, capabilities and networks to assist in approval pathways.

  • Community support and public comments more likely to be based on evidence.

  • A thriving Gulf region, where progressive developments occur, community opportunity is optimised and the unique ecosystem is protected and enhanced - specifically through effective consideration of cumulative, chronic and long term environmental stresses.


The Initiative sets out to drive sound outcomes for all gulf users and the environment. It is currently supported with nearly 2.5 million dollars of investment from industry, as well as through research efforts. Corporate investment includes BHP Billiton, Santos, Arrium, Alinta, Nyrstar, Centrex, Flinders Ports and the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation. Research partners include SARDI and Flinders University.To date the initiative has:

  • Identified substantial knowledge gaps with respect to the Gulf.

  • Engaged with a wide range of stakeholders across sectors and the regions to determine important points of focus, interest and tension.

  • It is delivering an integrated science program, backed with structured decision-making, so that the environmental evidence can be most easily applied for economic and social outcomes.


Current research


Current research is using ports and shipping as a case study to investigate integrated marine management in the gulf. The work:

  • Synthesises existing information on all current activities and impacts in Spencer Gulf

  • Conducts a detailed analysis of current shipping activities and predicts likely future scenarios for shipping and port development

  • Conducts a risk analsyis for introduction and establishment of exotic pests and pathogens under a range of future ports and shipping scenarios

  • Conducts a risk assessment to identify key iconic and threatened species, data deficiencies and needs, and species status for Spencer Gulf focusing particularly around shipping

  • Develops tools for predicting interactions of future ports and shipping scenarios with other industries

  • Engages broadly and uses the findings to inform managers, leaders, stakeholders, government and the broader community.



Outputs to date include:



Spencer Gulf Ecosystem Development Initiative (SGEDI)