MNF 2030 strategy

MNF 2030 provides a 10-year strategy to guide the Marine National Facility in the delivery of safe, efficient and excellent marine research to benefit the nation.

Download the strategy

This document is available for download: MNF 2030 [pdf · 5mb]

  

Watch the webinar

Recording of webinar on 25 Nov 2020: Come on board with MNF 2030!

  

FAQ 

See bottom of this page for answers to Frequently Asked Questions.

MNF 2030 is a milestone strategy for the Marine National Facility (MNF) and will guide the use of Australia’s dedicated marine research capability for the next 10 years. Building on our significant achievements to date, MNF 2030 seeks to ensure that access to the MNF is broad and equitable, and that the research we enable is aligned with Australia’s national research priorities.

What is changing?
Cover page of a document called 'MNF 2030' showing a photo of a ship from above.

MNF 2030 introduces wide ranging improvements in the way researchers access sea time on Research Vessel (RV) Investigator, and in the way we schedule research. 

The changes are aimed at facilitating the delivery of value and benefits to the nation from the significant government investment in the MNF, and building on Australia’s excellence in the marine and atmospheric sciences by: 

  • Encouraging policy-driven research to stimulate and support high impact projects 
  • Diversifying access to sea-time to reflect the breadth of needs of our users 
  • Introducing a flexible scheduling approach and streamlined digital tools for operational efficiency 
  • Implementing an MNF 25-year Capability Investment Framework to guide strategic development of our research capabilities
  • Enhancing our education and training programs in collaboration with other agencies and industries 
  • Increasing our focus on raising awareness about how the research we deliver benefits Australians and the world.

The development of MNF 2030 follows an independent review of the previous MNF access framework. This review was completed in 2019 and involved wide consultation with our stakeholders, including government, industry and the research community.

The review was a key driver in the development of MNF 2030, which was also guided by advice from the MNF Steering Committee.

Implementing MNF 2030

The primary vehicle to implement MNF 2030 is an annual MNF Operations Rolling Plan.

The inaugural MNF Operations Rolling Plan will be released in early 2021, to coincide with the next call for sea time applications.

Further information

The MNF held a webinar series in November 2020 to provide stakeholders and the general public with an overview of MNF 2030 and answer questions. A recording of the presentation on 25 Nov 2020 is available via the following link:

Webinar presentation (recorded 25 Nov 2020): https://webcast.csiro.au/#/webcasts/mnf2030

For further information about MNF 2030, please contact the MNF via phone +61 3 6232 5097 or email mnf@csiro.au

Watch the webinar videos

Video One: Australia's Marine National Facility - Supporting, enabling and inspiring marine science

[Music plays and an image appears of the Investigator ship on the ocean and text appears: Marine National Facility, Australia’s dedicated marine research capability]

[Camera gradually zooms out on the ship and text appears: Enabling research across our vast marine estate, from ice edge to equator]

[Image changes to show a female holding up a weather balloon and smiling and text appears: Southern Ocean]

[Image changes to show a view of a side view of the Investigator ship and text appears: Pacific Ocean]

[Image changes to show a male and female standing next to a piece of marine science equipment on the deck of the RV Investigator and text appears: Indian ocean]

[Image changes to show four crew members on the deck of the Investigator and the male crew member in the front holding up a sampling pipe and smiling at the camera and text appears: Great Australian Bight]

[Image changes to show a view looking down on the Investigator ship moving away from the camera in the ocean and text appears: Great Barrier Reef]

[Image changes to show a view of the bow of the Investigator ship in the foreground and a snow covered mountainous island in the background and text appears: Coastal waters and offshore]

[Image changes to show a multi-corer being lowered into the water and then plunging beneath the surface of the water and text appears: Research to ensure the sustainability and prosperity of our marine environment]

[Image changes to show a view of a male researcher looking at the camera and showing a surprised and excited face while working with samples and text appears: Discovering and studying marine biodiversity]

[Image changes to show different coloured fish swimming on the ocean floor and text appears: Supporting sustainable fisheries]

[Image changes to show a 3-D map of the ocean floor and text appears: Mapping and surveying our seafloor]

[Image changes to show a male pointing something out to a female in uniform and text appears: Collaborating in marine system monitoring]

[Image changes to show two employees looking at large cylinders labelled RV Investigator and text appears: Partnering with industry to collect marine data]

[Image changes to show a 3-D map of the ocean floor and text appears: Uncovering our maritime heritage]

[Image changes to show four crew members standing on the deck of the Investigator next to a multi-corer and text appears: Studying ocean processes and productivity]

[Image changes to show the Investigator ship on the ocean in the background and a floating piece of marine science equipment in the foreground and text appears: Monitoring climate variability and change]

[Image changes to show a group of researchers working around a bench with tubs of specimens and text appears: A flexible, multipurpose platform delivering a collaborative hub for research, education and training]

[Image changes to show a view looking down on fast speed footage of specimens being sorted into containers]

[Image changes to show four researchers on the deck of the Investigator sifting through samples in tubs and text appears: Fostering international collaboration]

[Image changes to show a group of researchers on the deck of the ship posing for a photograph and text appears: Investing in Australia’s future marine researchers]

[Image changes to show a male holding a piece of sampling equipment and hands holding up a tablet in the foreground showing a photo of a class of students and text appears: Offering hands-on experience for our educators]

[Image changes to show three students and a teacher in an office of the ship and text appears: Connecting with people across our community]

[Image changes to shows two researchers on the deck of a ship looking out over the ocean and text appears: Telling the story of marine research and its impact]

[Image changes to show four female researchers working with specimen samples and text appears: Championing women in STEM]

[Image changes to show a researcher squatting next to a tub of muddy sediment on the deck of the ship and smiling at the camera and text appears: Support Australia’s growing blue economy]

[Image changes to show a close view of Steve Thomas smiling at the camera from the deck of the ship and text appears: An unparalleled workplace and home for our marine science community]

[Image changes to show two males and a female researcher on the deck of the ship smiling and the image changes to show a female holding a door open and smiling at the camera while colleagues can be seen inside the corridor]

[Image changes to show a male and two females sitting at desk with computers smiling at the camera and then the image changes to show two females pouring a specimen into a jar from a sampling sleeve]

[Image changes to show two male researchers working at a bench with specimens inside a room on the ship]

[Image changes to show a male standing next to a piece of equipment and smiling at the camera]

[Image changes to show five researchers squatting down and putting their hands into a patch of muddy sediment on the deck of the ship and smiling]

[Image changes to show a male next to a microscope smiling at the camera]

[Image changes to show a female standing on the deck of the ship and sketching an island which can be seen in the distance]

[Image changes to show a profile view of three males wearing hard hats and smiling and then the image changes to show a female sitting at a desk and smiling at the camera]

[Image changes to show two females smiling at the camera and a map can be seen on a computer screen in the background]

[Image changes to show a male standing next to a multi-corer and smiling at the camera]

[Image changes to show four researchers standing on the deck of the ship and smiling at the camera]

[Image changes to show a pod of killer whales swimming in the foreground and the RV Investigator can be seen in the background and text appears: Funded by the Australian Government, owned and operated by CSIRO]

[Image changes to show a dark navy background screen and the CSIRO and Marine National Facility logos and text can be seen: CSIRO, Marine National Facility, Supporting, enabling and inspiring marine science]

Australia’s Marine National Facility – supporting, enabling and inspiring marine science. :  The Marine National Facility is Australia’s dedicated marine research capability, available to all Australian researchers and their international collaborators. Explore the capabilities we offer and the research we deliver, and see some of the faces behind the science.

Video Two: Come on board with MNF 2030!

Come on board with MNF 2030

[Image appears of a side view of the RV Investigator moving over the ocean towards the left and text appears: MNF 2030]

Toni Moate: The Marine National Facility is Australia’s dedicated blue water research resource, available to all Australian researchers, and their international collaborators.

[Image changes to show Toni Moate talking to the camera and text appears: Toni Moate, MNF Director]

MNF 2030 is our ten year strategic plan to facilitate high-impact research, of maximum benefit for Australia.

[Image changes to show a view of the camera panning over the surface of the ocean and text appears: MNF 2030 introduces 6 strategic pillars]

MNF 2030 maintains our focus on safety and will support: 

[Image changes to show two researchers releasing a weather balloon and then the image changes to show an aerial view looking down on the ship with the weather balloon floating in the air and text appears: 1 – Maximum impact]

Maximum impact through stronger alignment with national research priorities; 

[Images move through of researchers tightening a pipe, looking at specimens and sorting them, holding up a sample, drawing an island, and looking at a 3-D view of the ocean floor and text: 2. Broad access]

Broad access - by extending availability to all researchers from academia, government, museums, and industry. 

[Camera zooms in on a close up 3-D view of the ocean floor and then images move through of a researcher pointing at a map, the front of the Investigator ship, and a map, and text appears: 3. Streamlined operations and optimal use]

Optimal use, flexible scheduling, and an online application tool. 

[Images move through of a piece of marine equipment being winched up, a crew member operating a computer joystick, a fish swimming, and a multi corer descending below the water and text appears: 4. Advanced capabilities and innovation]

Innovative capability through strategic investment in equipment and technology. 

[Images move through of a close view of the multi-corer, a crew member releasing a drone, liquid moving through a piece of equipment, crew members in conversation on the deck, and text appears: 5. Training future generations]

Training future generations to support Australia’s growing blue economy. 

[Images move through of researchers looking in a microscope, a female talking, a female talking to a group of children and adults, and looking at specimens, and text appears: 6. Connecting with Australians and the World]

And connecting with the public about the benefits of Australian marine research on our lives, economy, and the environment.

[Music plays and images move through of the surface of the ocean, the cover of the MNF 2030 publication, and the pages of the publication turning, and text appears: To get onboard you need to – Consult, Collaborators, end users and the MNF]

We encourage you to read MNF 2030 and choose the stream of access that best suits your voyage. 

[Music plays and images move through of a hand on a mouse, and then a cursor making a selection on the computer screen, and text appears: Apply – Online via the Marine Application and Planning System]

Let us know if you need help with your application. 

[Images move through to show a female sitting in a chair talking, a MNF RV Investigator Voyage Briefing brochure, and crew members putting on life jackets, and text appears: Comply – Data delivery, Health and Safety, Behaviour and all MNF requirements]

Familiarise yourself with our policies and our capabilities. 

[Image changes to show a view looking down on a whale moving through the water and water blowing from the whale’s spout, and text appears: Deliver – World class research of benefit to the nation]

And get excited about being a part of Australia’s dedicated blue water research facility.

[Image changes to show a close view looking down on the RV Investigator moving through the water, and text appears: You can come onboard!]

We look forward to welcoming you on board. 

[Music plays and the camera gradually zooms out on an aerial view of the RV Investigator moving towards the camera and text appears: mnf.csiro.au]

[Image shows the CSIRO and Marine National Facility logos appearing over the image: CSIRO, Marine National Facility]

Come on board with MNF 2030 :  Toni Moate, Director of the CSIRO Marine National Facility talks about the opportunities that the new MNF 2030 strategy offers for research, education and training.

Frequently Asked Questions

MNF 2030 was developed in response to a 2019 review of the previous MNF access framework. Through this review, as well as in the development of MNF 2030, a wide range of stakeholder consultation was conducted, and a wide range of relevant documents, papers, strategies and plans were considered. This includes key documents such as the National Marine Science Plan and Australian Government science and research priorities.

MNF 2030 is not explicitly linked to UNDOS but the access framework introduced by MNF 2030 allows for a range of UNDOS-related projects to apply for sea time on RV Investigator. As Australia's only dedicated blue-water research capability, the MNF will undoubtedly play a key role in delivering UNDOS activities.

Pillar 4 - advanced capabilities and innovation - is an important component of MNF 2030 and seeks to maintain an active process to continually enhance our research capabilities to meet the evolving and future needs of our research community. This pillar is also supported by Stream 4, which is a dedicated Stream for technology and innovation projects and seeks to promote and support innovation in marine systems and technology.

The introduction of Streams more explicitly accommodates and support the diverse needs and demand from the marine research community. The access Streams replace and enhance the three types of access previously described in the MNF Principles of Access (2017).

Each stream will be allocated a target proportion of the total sea time available for each application call. The proportions will be determined in consultation with the MNF Steering Committee and will be published in the annual MNF Operations Rolling Plan.

No, the new online application system (MAPS) will only allow you to select one stream per proposal and the application form for each Stream has been customised.
If you believe your project could fit under more than one Stream, you must select the most appropriate Stream, given the Stream Objectives and Definitions provided for each Stream.

Further guidance and detailed information about each Stream are available in MNF 2030 and the MNF Operations Rolling Plan (released at time of each application call).

Yes, the assessment process is the same for all Streams. All applications will be assessed against two merit principles, each with four merit criteria:

  1. Research quality – rationale, rigour, feasibility, capability
  2. Research benefit – benefit rationale, outputs, path to benefit, delivery capability and education opportunities

The setting of the MNF Policy Priorities to guide Stream 1 applicants is done in consultation with relevant government end-users. Detailed information about the policy priorities for Stream 1 will be available in the MNF Operations Rolling Plan released at the time of each application call.

A pilot of the intended approach to facilitating development of proposals under this Stream will be run with the 2021 call. The pilot will include workshops between researchers and end-users to encourage a co-design approach. Details of these workshops will be released at the time of the call for applications.

The MNF will soon establish a Technology and Innovation Advisory Group (TIAG), which will advise on both emerging technological needs and developments to guide strategic capital investment. The TIAG will comprise scientists from a range of disciplines as well as engineers and relevant technology experts.

MNF 2030 sees the introduction of a new 25-year capability investment framework for the MNF. This seeks to identify, prioritise, procure and review capital investment for the MNF.

Initial work to identify priorities for MNF has produced the following priorities for investment (noting that these are all subject to successful business case and funding):

  • Heavy ocean towing system (HOTS) – to depth 6500m (2020)
  • Integrated drone (UAV) capability (2021)
  • Remote autonomous surface capability (2021)
  • Deep water remotely operated vehicle (ROV) – to depth 6500m (2024)

To identify deep water remotely operated vehicle (ROV) capabilities we need to look at equipment held by our overseas colleagues as well as within Australia. While there has been an increase in demand for deep water ROV capabilities by scientists applying for sea time with the MNF, we need to ensure we have a strong business case and appropriate funding model.

MNF 2030 will explore the feasibility and the need for the deep water ROV to meet the needs of scientists.

Yes, a wide range of information and support will be provided at the time of the 2021 application call, in mid-February 2021. There will be a range of supporting information on the MNF website and a series of webinars will be offered to explain the Streams, application process and the new online application system (MAPS).

Subscribe to the MNF mailing list to be kept informed, including dates for the webinar series.

The 2021 application call will open on Monday 15 February 2021 and close on Monday 14 June 2021. The 2021 call for applications will be longer than usual to give applicants time to get familiar with the changes and the new online portal.

All applications in 2021 will need to be submitted through the new MNF online portal called the Marine Application and Planning System (MAPS).

Yes. The MNF will accept applications for up to three years for Stream 1, 2, 4 and 5 and five years for Stream 3. If you require regular access to sea time for established nationally funded research programs delivering long‑term, high-quality data to diverse users and/or to meet government priorities, you should consider applying for a multi-year strategic partnership (Stream 3).

Yes but all projects are assessed based on the same merit criteria - Research Quality and Research Benefit - with the expectation being that any project granted sea time through MNF funding will deliver national benefit and be in the national interest. Application assessment also includes consideration of operational and scheduling feasibility.

The new online application portal called MAPS – Marine Application and Planning System – will be hosted securely by CSIRO.

To be eligible to make an application for sea time through the Granted Voyage Program (funded by the Australian Government) the applicant must be:

  1. employed by an Australian research organisation
  2. based in Australia.

Other participants named in the application can be from overseas research organisations or work overseas for Australian research organisations.

No, pre-proposals are no longer required in the new application process.

Yes, you can make more than one application for sea time if the project proposals are different.

Streams are not about particular disciplines but rather about the driver of the research. Whenever a project fits within the scope of the MNF Policy-driven Priorities (as published in the MNF Operations Rolling Plan), it should be submitted under Stream 1 irrespective of the discipline.

Stream 2 is for Discipline-driven research. This includes archaeology, and other marine research areas that require MNF capabilities to deliver.

The next application call will be for sea time in the 2023-24 voyage schedule so it is impossible to predict what the situation will be then. Even now, we are regularly reviewing our COVID-19 Protocols as the situation changes and will continue to do so while the threat remains.

We encourage you to submit your strongest application to support your proposal. Collaboration, both nationally and internationally, is strongly encouraged and will be well regarded during assessment.

All applications, irrespective of Stream, will be assessed against the same two merit principles of Research Quality and Research Benefit. In the case contemplated in the question, the proposal should clearly articulate why delivering international benefits is in Australia’s national interest.

All applications, irrespective of Stream, will be assessed against the same two merit principles of Research Quality and Research Benefit.

Yes, rejoinder responses will be requested by the MNF and will be included in the assessment process by the Research Assessment Committee (RAC) and National Benefit Assessment Committee (NBAC).

Further information about the assessment process, including rejoinders, will be provided in information packages and webinars to support the application call in mid-February 2021.

All applications are assessed by two independent committees of experts drawn from the Australian marine-based research community (RAC - Research Advisory Committee) and members that represent the range of data end-users including government and industry (NBAC - National Benefit Advisory Committee).

The RAC always seek external reviewers to assist them in their assessment. The NBAC may also seek advice from experts relevant to your application, should this be required to better inform their assessment process.

Yes, where spare capacity exists, both Supplementary and Piggyback application opportunities will be offered to ensure full utilisation of berths and time at sea. A Supplementary Call will be issued once a primary schedule for the period January 2023 to June 2024 is published.

All applicants should be notified of the outcome of their application approximately five months after the close of the application call. For the 2021 application call, this means that we anticipate that all applicants will be notified by December 2021.

In general, at the close of the application call, there will be a period of approximately two months where rejoinder requests may be issued to applicants. Following this, final application assessment and ranking will take approximately three months.

Yes.

No, there is no appeal process available to applicants. However, the MNF provides the opportunity for both successful and unsuccessful applicants to receive feedback from the two merit assessment committees (RAC and NBAC).

The MNF encourages and supports Early Career Researchers (ECR). However, experience at sea is also important, particularly for a voyage Chief Scientist. We recommend that ECR applying for sea time without significant prior experience in leading a blue-water research voyage seek the support of an experienced researcher.

Following careful consideration and consultation, some of the review recommendations were not considered practicable and were not adopted. For example, the review recommended that RV Investigator focus on a different geographic area in each schedule. This was considered impractical from an operational perspective as it would introduce considerable complexity to scheduling as well as, in some situations, unreasonably constrain user access to sea time.

Not directly. While there are several projects on board RV Investigator that have been and are supported by suitable volunteers, these arrangements are managed by the project proponent, the Principal Investigator and/or Chief Scientist.  The MNF has no volunteer program independent from individual projects.

However, the MNF manages a range of education, outreach and training programs that offer various individuals the opportunity to participate on voyages. More information is available from MNF Education and Training.