Minderoo Foundation’s Flourishing Oceans and the Shire of Exmouth have agreed to a lease arrangement that will see the facility open its doors at the Ningaloo Centre.
The lease agreement was unanimously supported by the Shire of Exmouth council at a meeting on Thursday, 26 September.
“We intend to be in a position to accommodate the first research programs at the centre in time for the coral spawning event in autumn next year, with the centre to be fully operational by late 2020,” Flourishing Oceans lead Dr Rory McAuley said.
“Flourishing Oceans has committed $2.5 million for capital works at the research centre – a figure that doesn’t include a sizable spend on the two research vessels that will service the hub.
“The establishment of the research facility will have significant economic benefits for the local community and put Exmouth on the map nationally and internationally as a destination where marine scientists will want to come and ply their trade.”
Minderoo has committed to engaging with local businesses and will invite them to tender on building works and ongoing maintenance of facilities and operational assets, including boats, seawater systems, accommodation and vehicles.
Local high school students and those studying at TAFE are also set to reap the benefits.
“The centre will create jobs and provide for training and volunteer opportunities for school and TAFE students, as well as members of the community with an interest in marine research and aquarium husbandry,” Dr McAuley said.
Shire of Exmouth President Matthew Niikkula said the research centre would create a welcome economic stimulus for the town.
“As well as promoting the region on the world scientific stage, visiting scientists will bring additional spending to our local shops, accommodation and service providers,” he said.
“This project ticks all the boxes as far as our Strategic Community Plan: Exmouth 2030 which clearly outlines the community’s desire to create a diverse and environmentally aware economy that can attract business investment and provide local employment opportunities.
“We look forward to seeing the lasting benefit that Flourishing Oceans’ research facility will bring to the community.”