A number of key NESP TWQ hub research projects will be contributing to the International Crown-of-Thorns Starfish Control Forum, scheduled for 29-30 March 2021 in Cairns, Far North Queensland.
The collaborative event, hosted by the Reef and Rainforest Research Centre and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, will be a valuable opportunity for those involved in crown-of-thorns starfish (COTS) control to meet, present, discuss and be part of the ongoing solution and management of this international coral reef pest. TWQ Hub research has driven the adoption of the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) framework for controlling COTS numbers on the Reef and this will be featured strongly in the forum’s two-day program. The IPM approach aims to deliver the most efficient and effective control of the pest for the resources available. It enables control programs to evolve in efficiency and effectiveness over time as knowledge gaps are filled and tools are refined and developed. Because of this approach, the forum will seek to draw from strategies employed by other IPM practitioners and researchers in controlling other pest species, such as locust and carp. Among the presenters will be Dr David Westcott (CSIRO), project leader of numerous TWQ Hub projects centred on COTS control, delivering the latest results and expected future outcomes, challenges and limitations of the current IPM control program. Dr Cameron Fletcher (CSIRO) will provide the rationale behind and updates to the Decision Support Tool currently employed to plan and manage COTS control voyages and improve their efficiency. TWQ Hub research into the social and economic outcomes of graduate divers from the COTS Control training program will be delivered, with another novel presentation looking into the efficacy of triton shell snails as natural predators of the starfish to be presented by Dr Cherie Motti (Australian Institute of Marine Science).
The 2021 Forum will also utilise seamless live-streams and online discussion platforms to give both international and domestic delegates the ability to contribute effectively in light of current COVID-19 travel restrictions.
More information on the 2021 forum can be found here, with a finalised program to be published on the forum page before the year’s end.
Photo: Suzanne Long (Reef and Rainforest Research Centre)