Implementing the protocols developed through UVNSW has as an underlying principle the fact that assessment and monitoring methods must ensure UVGs produce reliable data, while harnessing and enhancing their local knowledge of possible causes of environmental issues. Thus the protocols are tailored to meet clear, achievable research, educational and stewardship goals.
Community-based research linking UVGs with dedicated members of government agencies and university researchers can provide a strong model for the establishment and maintenance of robust, scientifically credible community assessment and monitoring undertakings.
A network of committed UVGs depends on human, technical and financial support and the inspiration and encouragement provided by meeting other UVG members and learning about local successes in following up on issues that cause concern.
The success of long-term assessment and monitoring programs depends upon:
- management by a steering committee composed of members from the community, government agencies and tertiary institutions (and ideally the private sector);
- long-term funding that enables the program to be conducted;
- input from scientific expertise in data collection and interpretation procedures;
- certificates of participation for individual members and community UVGs to recognise and acknowledge their contribution to the understanding and management NSW marine waters;
- providing feedback to UVGs of the outcomes of the analyses of the data they collect – this recognises the strong interest by individuals in the outcomes of the assessment and monitoring programs;
- a mechanism for the development and maintenance of a good communication program for both the UVGs and the wider community; and
- engagement of local, state and federal politicians by UVGs.