Elucidation of in situ environmental processes is the key to effective ecosystem management. However, due to the complexity of coastal ecosystems, few tools are available to determine the inter-relationships and rates of these events. It is only when all of the important variables are understood and computationally described that effective ecological risk analysis can be accomplished. Model packages already exist which describe and predict specific coastal processes and further refinement of subroutines and user-interfaces has some value; however the truly significant advances lie in synergistic integration of different codes. Predictive ecological risk analysis requires transport models predicting contaminant concentrations under a range of environmental scenarios and bioaccumulation and trophic-transfer models using keystone species (or critical groups) identified by models elucidating trophic structure. In an attempt to elucidate natural processes, or solve environmental problems, stable and radioisotope tracers have a number of advantages over conventional techniques. Stable isotope studies replace visual observations of prey-predator interactions with statistically interpretable chemical data. Radiotracers provide real time kinetic data on uptake and transfer of specific contaminants and environmental transport processes. The unique assemblage and application of these nuclear and isotopic environmental probes will greatly assist in effective ecological risk assessment of present situations and the resource-economic evaluation of proposed management options. The nuclear-based technologies developed from studies undertaken in the Sydney (Australia) environs are transferred to developing countries via the IAEA/Regional Cooperative Agreement (RCA) Project: Improving Regional Capacity for Assessment, Planning and Responding to Aquatic Environmental Emergencies (RAS/8/095). The IAEA Project objectives were to improve the regional capacity for the management of aquatic radiological and environmental risks and to develop capabilities in the RCA countries to assess, plan and respond to pollution events in aquatic environments. Expert missions supported national projects in individual Member States, further developing and transferring skills and technologies.

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