1998 was the first official International Year of the Ocean. There was stirring in the maritime sector to rise to the occasion. A cooperative decision was made to further awareness, education and action for the protection of the marine environment. It was about this time that the Australian Marine Environment Protection Association (AUSMEPA) came to life.
One of the founding members who was instrumental in the development and incorporation of AUSMEPA in 2000 was Michael Julian. AUSMEPA acknowledges his contribution.
His story began near London. Michael fell in love with the sea at an early age. At aged 12 he set his sights on joining the London Nautical School and then joined P&O and travelled the seas. Eventually he quit the sea to marry and raise a family. He immigrated to Australia distinguishing himself in a career in the public service that highlighted accomplishments to protect both people and the marine environment.
While working as Executive Manager International Relations (1997-2002) for the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) he was elected as the first and only Australian to become Chairman of the United Nations International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC). It should be noted that IMO is the UN agency responsible for improving maritime safety and marine environment protection from ship sourced pollution.
As MEPC Chairman he contributed to the development of IMO’s International Convention on the Control of Harmful Aquatic Organisms in Ballast Water and acted as Chairman of the Conference Committee for the development and adoption of International Convention on the Control of Harmful Anti-fouling Systems on Ships and amendments to MARPOL 73/78 to bring forward the phase out date for single hull oil tankers. He also worked towards the adoption of the OPRC HNS Protocol, extending the Convention to cover chemicals and other noxious substances and the development and agreement of the then voluntary guidelines for the recycling of ships.
From 2002 to 2012 Michael began a consulting practice specialising in maritime safety and environmental services while taking on the role of as the Executive Director for both AUSMEPA and the Australasian Network of Maritime Education & Training (ANMET).
We interviewed Michael about his many years as AUSMEPA’s Executive Director.
Q: What were the circumstances that lead you to join AUSMEPA?
MJ: While I was the Chairman of the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) from 1997 - 2002 I got to know Dimitris Mitsatsos, Director General of HELMEPA and to learn a lot about HELMEPA and HELMEPA Junior. Dimitris attended MEPC as part of the Greek delegation.
On one occasion he asked me if 3 or 4 children from HELMEPA Junior could address the MEPC. After some discussion with the IMO Secretariat I agreed. At the next meeting of MEPC 4 Greek children spoke to the full plenary meeting of MEPC, some 400 delegates. Challenging the delegates from some 86 countries to improve the protection of the marine environment and reduce ship sourced pollution. This was first time that children had been allowed to address an IMO Committee. Everyone was very impressed with the 4 children who all spoke in English.
About this time Dimitris was invited to speak at a conference in Brisbane being organised by the Maritime Law Association of Australia and New Zealand to talk about HELMEPA. During this conference I asked Dimitris to attend a breakfast meeting with Peter Morris (Transport Minister), John Watkinson, Steve Pelecanos, some other AMSA people and myself. As a result of this meeting it was generally agreed that Australia should start a MEPA.
Peter Morris and Steve Pelecanos got it going. John Watkinson agreed to one of his staff helping by running the Secretariat. Michael Alexander was approached to be Acting Chairman and Steve Pelecanos approached Greg McGarvie to be the Executive Director, then President of the Marine Teachers Association of Queensland. When the Interim Board was established I with Annaliese Caston represented AMSA.
I attended the AUSMEPA Inauguration on 13 January 2000 at Newstead House and endorsed the Voluntary Declaration and Action Plan see http://ausmepa.org.au/declaration-of-a-voluntary-commitment.htm. I also addressed the gathering as a Chairman of MEPC.
Prior to my retiring from AMSA in March 2002 Michael Alexander asked me to take on the role of Executive Director to which I agreed.
Q: Did you have a favourite achievement while Executive Director?
MJ: There are probably two favourite achievements; firstly, setting up the Ship Membership scheme and thereby getting ships and ship masters and their crews to have a commitment to protect the marine environment and secondly, with a great deal of help from Bob Winters, achieving the level of seven middle year curriculum units on the AUSMEPA website when the Board agreed we had reached AUSMEPA’s main objective of having sufficient education units available to all schools in Australia.
Q: What moment will you never forget?
MJ: Again I want to mention two moments – AUSMEPA’s inauguration and the 10 year anniversary milestone and celebration at Rydges on Southbank in Brisbane, which brought together many of the founding members as well as current members and AUSMEPA’s wonderful sponsors.
Q: If you could offer students some words of advice about looking after the ocean what would they be?
MJ: I have always believed the oceans are the ‘fountain of life’. Having spent 15 years at sea observing the oceans of the world you get to understand the power of the sea, never the same it will always have a different and admiring appearance. However, it is not just its appearance that is uniquely wonderful but it’s the source of so many life giving resources. See the creed ‘ I love the Ocean’ this depicts the words of advice I would like every student to receive.
THE ‘I LOVE OCEAN’ CREED
I believe that the ocean harbors life, life that I must protect
I believe that the ocean is mankind’s greatest common heritage
I believe that the diversity of the ocean is important to sustaining human life
I believe that I am part of but one ocean, and that everything I do affects the delicate balance of life on earth
I believe that it is my duty to protect the ocean
I believe that, by protecting the ocean, I help protect the future.
Therefore I pledge to always live in harmony with the ocean.
Note: The creed can be viewed at the One Ocean Organisation here
Becoming Executive Director from 2002 up until last year Michael Julian had the helm of the Australian Marine Environment Protection Association (AUSMEPA) for eleven years. With his help and guidance AUSMEPA became a new and interesting player on the Marine Extension Education scene. The organisation grew under his guidance into an impressive, stable and influential organisation.
We thank him.