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Monday, November 22, 2010

MEDIA RELEASE: AUSMEPA Urges the Government to Introduce More Stringent Regulations for Offshore Petroleum Exploration and Development


 At the AUSMARINE Conference and Exhibition opening inPerth today a joint AUSMEPA presentation by Michael Julian and Kerry Dwyer on Marine Environmental Protection in the Indian Ocean and Internationally urges the Federal Government to introduce mandatory regulations requiring compliance monitoring by regulatory authorities regarding offshore petroleum exploration and development.


Montara platform ABC News
The presentation looks at some of the evidence presented to the Commission of Inquiry into the Montara well head platform explosion off north western Australia which occurred on 21 August 2009. While the Government is still to make public the Commission’s report, evidence presented to the inquiry is available on the inquiry website.

Michael Julian said the evidence presented clearly demonstrates that current legislation is inadequate in that no compliance monitoring is either required or undertaken by the regulator to ensure the exploration and development company complies with the Environment Impact Statement for the drilling operations.

With increased petroleum and gas exploration in the Indian Ocean off Australia’s coastline there is increased risk of further incidents which could cause great harm to the marine environment.

Deepwater Horizon oil spill
 courtesy of NOAA
The joint presentation also looks at the similarities in the evidence presented at various inquiries into the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico earlier this year. Findings of these inquiries have also demonstrated inadequate compliance monitoring by the regulator. The USA has already taken steps to address this matter, Australia must do likewise.

The AUSMARINE presentation points out that if rig explosions and major oil spills can occur off the coastlines of two of the most technically advanced countries in oil exploration, what hope is there for developing countries in the Asia-Pacific region and globally, where regulatory requirements and local experience is much less.

AUSMEPA also urges the Federal Government, together with other countries, including the USA, to take appropriate action to establish an international regulatory regime for offshore petroleum exploration and development operations.

Such a regime could be undertaken by the United Nation’s International Maritime Organization (IMO) which has had a dramatic impact in reducing pollution of the sea from ship operations in the past three decades.

Editors Note

The Australian Marine Environment Protection Association is a not for profit association which aims to bring awareness to the Australian community about the importance of the marine environment and the need to protect it for future generations. It does this through a range of education programs freely available from its website, www.ausmepa.org.au

For more information about AUSMEPA please visit our website here.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Ultramarine - Seahorses

Ocean images often trigger discussion around protection. Here is an Ultramarine YouTube clip of some iconic ocean animals that need our thought, consideration and protection.

Seahorses don't have a tail fin, in fact they are decidedly short of fins. Their heads bend forward and don't line up with their backbone, as it does in other fish, giving them a horsey look. They suck food up through their long straw-like mouths after snapping their tiny jaws shut. Their body armour is made up of scales fused together, a less than appetizing meal for many would be predators. It doesn't help, though, for their biggest problem is people.

All around the world seahorses are loved and collected, either for Asian medicine or keepsakes. Living in shallow coastal waters these little fish are subjected to habitat degradation from land-based activities. Stormwater run-off quality is an often cited  reason. Teachers wishing to incorporate studies on keeping our coastal waters clean will be inspired by AUSMEPA's free online education materials related to Marine Stormwater Pollution - here.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Underwater Environmental Noise Course, Brisbane Dec 6 & 7

Underwater noise is an area of environmental pollution that requires the attention of our environmental scientists, engineers, ports and government agencies. The SVT course being offered in Brisbane this year brings together knowledge around the fundamentals of underwater noise and its propagation  through the water. 


The course will describe how noise can affect marine animals, it will describe the auditory structures and bandwidths of various marine animals, and it will also describe common noise sources and their possible impact on marine animals. Guidance will also be provided on the environmental impact assessment process with regards to marine noise impacts.



Outline
• Fundamentals of underwater acoustics
• Marine Animals auditory structures and bandwidth (Whales, Turtles and Fish both hearing
specialist and generalists)
• Typical underwater noise sources
• Overview of Underwater Modelling
• Guidelines for assessment



Duration: 2 days
Dates:      6 & 7 December 2010
Location: Unit 23, 160 Lytton Rd, Morningside, Qld  4170
Cost:       $890 plus GST


For further information contact Baz Ismail
Email: bassim.ismail@svt.com.au
Tel:     0894892051
Mob:  0419993233

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

NEW AUSTRALIAN MARINE ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION ASSOC. CHAIRMAN, CAPTAIN CONRAD SALDANAHA


At the recent Annual General Meeting of the Australian Marine Environment Protection Association (AUSMEPA), its member elected Captain Conrad Saldanaha, Marine Manager of Origin Energy, as the new Chairman of AUSMEPA.  Captain Saldanha has been actively involved in AUSMEPA since its early days as a Board Member and since December 2006 as Deputy Chairman.

Captain Saldanha said he was honoured to be elected to the position of Chairman and that he hoped to steer AUSMEPA on a successful journey that will deliver on its objectives of a safer and cleaner marine environment through the education of children and seafarers.


Neil Baird will continue providing his support as a roving Ambassador promoting the development of new MEPAs across the world. 


For more information on AUSMEPA look here.


To find out more about the International Marine Environment Protection network look here.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

MangroveWatching – getting down and dirty for a healthier environment!

by Norm Duke  

A new and exciting program called MangroveWatch has volunteers from all backgrounds and interests getting involved - starting recently in South-East Queensland's Burnett Mary region. The task has been to film vulnerable shorelines using geo-tagged video to create a baseline, and monitor condition of shoreline ecosystems.

Australia’s mangroves are rich in biodiversity and biomass – and, they are among the most extensive in the world. These highly beneficial coastal habitats are also the most pristine, but we should not take this for granted. ‘Times are changing!’ Valuable coastal ecosystems are increasingly threatened – many are lost already! Growing pressures of human influences, like our sea-change shift to northern parts, coupled with global climate change are beginning to show. Now, more than ever, people in local communities are needed to watch over our valuable mangrove and saltmarsh wetlands. 

A new Shoreline Video Assessment Method (SVAM) developed by the University of Queensland’s Mangrove Hub (see: www.mangrovewatch.org.au<http://www.mangrovewatch.org.au> ) offers not only baseline imagery, but also report cards of shoreline (mangrove, beach, etc) habitat condition – as indicators of global climate change, disturbance, erosion, storm impacts, pollution, sea level rise, fish habitat, rehabilitation monitoring, and much more.  
Members so far have accounted for around 300 km of estuaries and shorelines in the region. These data have become the baseline reference from which to assess change in the future. After our successful pilot in the Burnett-Mary region, the MangroveWatch team are looking for support to roll out similar schemes across Australia.
Anyone interested in getting involved or in setting up MangroveWatch in their area can visit www.mangrovewatch.org.au <http://www.mangrovewatch.org.au>   for more information.


Find Mangrove Watch brochure here

Monday, November 8, 2010

HELMEPA Cadets under the auspices of the General Secretariat for Youth

The Hellenic Marine Environment Protection AssociationΗELMEPA is glad to announce that the General Secretariat for Youth of the Hellenic Ministry for Employment and Social Security places under its auspices the “HELMEPA Cadets”, the new category of volunteers-members for youth 13-30 years old.

The aim of this initiative is to provide the opportunity to youth throughout Greece to become informed about the importance of the marine environment for our country and life on our planet in general, shipping, scientific research and the development of new technologies for the sustainable use of marine resources, as well as opportunities presented for pursuing careers in marine-related professions.

At the same time, HELMEPA Cadets are invited to take part in voluntary activities for the protection of coasts and seasThis way, young people in various parts of Greece who in the past had become members of the “HELMEPA Junior” program, may now continue their environmental activity as liaisons between HELMEPA and local communities in their areas.  Visit the program’s website www.helmepacadets.gr 


HELMEPA and AUSMEPA (here) are both under the umbrella of INTERMEPA, the International Marine Environment Protection Association (here). Each MEPA employs regionally relevant methods of involving schools and community in the protection of the worlds oceans.

By-The-Wind-Sailors stranded

The interesting thing about this article from San Diego Community News Group - Tidelines Sailors stranded at La Jolla Shores (article and photo by Judith Garfield) is that these remarkable little mariners,  By-The-Wind-Sailors or  Velella velella, also find themselves wrecked on Australian shores as well as many coastlines around the Pacific.


"Scientists believe a mix of both right- and left-handed sailors are born in the central Pacific, then prevailing winds sort the mirror-imaged groups onto opposite sides of the ocean. It’s a good hedge against losing entire populations from blowing ashore, at least not by moderate winds. Winds in the northern hemisphere cycle clockwise, so the sails are typically right-handed. However, if prolonged southerlies or westerlies blow, the sailors may be driven thousands of miles to beach on our coast."


Velella velella are ocean surface communities that feed on plankton and are ocean drifters themselves. To read more about these small jellied hydrozoans click here


If these small predators eat plankton are they taking up microplastics? A recent news article in Hawiian News Now highlights concern about plastics taking up more space than plankton in part of the ocean. Find full article here
Photo from Hawaiian News Now


AUSMEPA is also very concerned about reducing plastic pollution and its effect on marine life. See media release here and they are doing their part to help by providing a free online complete unit plan for teachers wanting to introduce the subject into the classroom here at http://www.ausmepa.org.au/marine-stormwater-pollution/

Everyone can help by spreading the word.






Friday, November 5, 2010

SCIENCE ALERT: Ecosystems need sharks 

SCIENCE ALERT, Macquarie University. "A study by researchers from the University of California - Santa Barbara (UCSB) and Macquarie University into the human impacts on the health and well being of marine ecosystems has recently been published in the journal American Naturalist."

Blacktip reef shark, Science Alert

"The study reports that when hunted by large predators, such as sharks and snapper, small fish hide and move around less. When predator numbers are seriously reduced, their prey move greater distances, take more risks, and change feeding behaviours. These behavioural responses in prey species also drive significant changes in the balance of ecosystems."

Find more about Ecosystems need sharks (Science Alert) here