Saturday, December 14, 2013

INTERMEPA; the affiliation of international associations

AUSMEPA was a founding member of the International Marine Environment Protection Association (INTERMEPA) and participated at its inaugural meeting on 6 June 2006 in Athens.
INTERMEPA was formed to bring together at an international level the various MEPAS from around the world. It has similar objectives to its members MEPAS with more focus at the international level.
Other founding MEPAS were:
  • CYMEPA – The Cyprus Marine Environment Protection Association
  • HELMEPA – The Hellenic Marine Environment Protection Association
  • TURMEPA – The Turkish Marine Environment Protection Association
Since its establishment INTERMEPA has welcomed the following MEPAS:
  • NAMEPA – The North American Marine Environment Protection Association
  • UKRMEPA – The Ukrainian Marine Environment Protection Association
  • URUMEPA – The Uruguayan Marine Environment Protection Association

INTERMEPA Objectives

  • Encourage the effective compliance of the members of every MEPA with the national and international laws and regulations adopted for the protection of the marine environment from pollution;
  • Conduct a uniform public awareness campaign with top priority to offer young schoolchildren in every MEPA's country a specially designed education on the marine environmental and the ways to prevent its pollution;
  • Create and promote safety mindedness and security spirit within the industrial sectors in each country that are voluntarily enlisting as members in every MEPA;
  • Enhance quality standards and professional competence throughout each MEPA's membership and especially the members from within the maritime community, with the means of a concerted training effort to educate and inform all, from the owner to the youngest employee of every participating company;
  • Cooperate with International Organizations, i.e. UNEP, the United Nations Environment Program, IMO, the International Maritime Organization, E.U., the European Union as well as national agencies, i.e. Coast Guards, Port Authorities, Tourist Boards and any other entity whose aims coincide with those of INTERMEPA;
  • Promote relationships and/or partnerships with educational institutions (schools, Colleges, Universities, Maritime Academies and other) to further spread the MEPA voluntary commitment within today's youth who are the world's future scientists, engineers, managers, politicians etc;
  • Publicly recognize individuals, associations, organizations, companies and any other that demonstrate outstanding achievements in the field of the protection of the marine environment from pollution;
  • Promote and spread the MEPA philosophy in other countries.
For more information on INTERMEPA visit

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


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 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.


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.

Sunday, November 17, 2013


CoralWatch has just released the unit plan "Healthy Reefs from Polyp to Policy". 

This unit plan focuses on Grade 11 and 12 Marine Science and is linked to the Marine Science Senior Syllabus 2013, produced by Queensland Studies Authority,

‘Healthy Reefs - from Polyp to Policy’ contains lessons and activities that allow students to explore the definitions and determinants of reef health—from how the biology of corals is influenced by the environment, through to local and regional approaches to management of reef threats.

The unit plan is available for free. You can obtain it by emailing and requesting an electronic EOI-form to complete.

Imagine taking your students out on the reef to do important and serious work that is incredibly enjoyable too.

Visit the Coral Watch website at;jsessionid=ED488C75444230F81345D82400AD2FCE

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


It is pretty exciting to see a new wave of citizen science blossoming on a vital and hugely neglected buffering zone along Australia's coastlines. 

If you've been wanting to make a difference and not yet found your volunteer group 'perfect match' you might consider initiating your own Saltmarsh Watch (here) where you can find online information and instruction on how to undertake careful and considerate action of these colourful and dynamic ecosystems.  

AUSMEPA is also an organisation that recognises the need to protect our coastlines to ensure the health of our coasts. 

They have previously awarded the Port of Townsville with their Environmental Award for the rehabilitation of a badly degraded saltmarsh into a vibrant reserve...see more here

If you are in SE Qld and would like to try your hand, volunteers are needed at Bremner Road, Rothwell (Redcliffe Peninsula) from December through March 2014. To register your interest please contact either Bob on his email:  or 
Cheryl at Wetland Care:

South Australian Intertidal data analysis 2006-2012

It's been a long time coming but South Australia's Conservation Council have produced a data analysis of the first 6 years of Reef Watch intertidal monitoring is now available on the Reef Watch website.

The reports is freely available on the Reef Watch website report  

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

REEFSearch with Cleveland District High School featured on SCOPE

Congratulations to Reef Check and Cleveland District High School for this great item.
It highlights a project assisted by AUSMEPA under grant funding from their Rhondda Alexander Memorial Education Grant program.

2013 Ecosystem Health Report Card for South East Queensland’s waterways

Queensland's Healthy Waterways launched the 2013 Ecosystem Health Report Card on Oct 23, providing insight into the health of South East Queensland’s waterways and Moreton Bay. This remarkable initiative has provided a model for other cities internationally and regularly informs developments within Australia to improve water quality.

About Healthy Waterways and the Ecosystem Health Monitoring Program 
Healthy Waterways is a non government, not-for-profit organisation working to protect and improve waterway health. The Ecosystem Health Monitoring Program (EHMP) is one of the most comprehensive freshwater, estuarine and marine monitoring programs in Australia. The EHMP delivers a regional assessment of the ambient ecosystem health for each of South East Queensland’s (SEQ) 19 major catchments, 18 river estuaries and nine zones in Moreton Bay.

Healthy Waterways manages the program on behalf of member organisations, and it is delivered by a large team of experts from the Queensland Government, universities and CSIRO.

Report Card 
The annual Ecosystem Health Report Card highlights whether the health of the waterways is improving or declining. A total of 389 sites are monitored across SEQ and Moreton Bay: 135 freshwater sites are monitored biannually, and 254 estuarine and marine sites are monitored monthly.

The 2013 Report Card results show the mud and nutrients deposited into Moreton Bay during the 2011 and 2013 floods continues to reduce water clarity and stimulate the growth of algae.Last year, the health of seagrass beds and corals appeared to improve slightly. However, this year corals and seagrasses are showing signs of ongoing stress and decline. Perhaps the best news for the bay and estuaries was  improvements linked to advances in sewage treatment, lowering the nutrient load.

One of the best grades on the report card came from the north in the Sunshine Coast. Noosa is a community where residents are embued with a strong environmental ethic. They have worked hard to protect their catchments, with good ecosystem health outcomes.

Some of the worst grades noted were catchments to the west and south where population growth and land change has drastically altered the catchment. The report card helps to identify where further management action is required.

Brisbane City Council Lord Mayor Graham Quirk said “Brisbane City Council’s vision is to become Australia’s most clean, green and water-smart city and this financial year we are investing more than $16 million to improve the health of our waterways.” 

For more information, visit

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Launch of the 2013 Ecosystem Health Report Card for SE Queensland

Wednesday 23 October at 11:15am (for 11:30am start) until 12:30pm.
The SE Queensland's Report Card is the envy of other states. It is an ambitious effort to monitor, record and report the health of the waterways and receiving waters so that everyone knows how things are progressing, good or bad.
The Report Card provides an annual snapshot of the ecosystem health of South East Queensland’s waterways and is released annually by Healthy Waterways. It is the culmination of twelve months of scientific monitoring at 389 freshwater, estuarine and marine sites throughout the region. The Report Card also helps to identify issues affecting our waterways and the actions required to improve waterway health.

The launch is a high profile event held simultaneously at four locations across South East Queensland:
Healthy Waterways
Riverlife Centre (Located at the base of the Kangaroo Point Cliffs access via Lower River Terrace or River Terrace)
Kangaroo Point 
Brisbane QLD 4169
Gold Coast City Council
Broadwater Parklands (The Rooftop)
Marine Parade
Southport QLD 4215
Somerset Regional Council
Somerset Civic Centre
25 Esk-Hampton Road
Esk QLD 4312
Moreton Bay Regional Council
Pelican Park (Bells Beach)
Hornibrook Esplanade
Clontarf QLD 4019

The Report Card launch is a key event for the water industry and offers significant networking opportunities as it is well attended by government, industry, research and community groups. The launch is an open event so please feel free to bring guests. Light refreshments will be served at 12.30pm.

If you would like to attend please confirm your attendance by Friday 18 October by emailing, nominating which event you wish to attend.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Seajellies, a slippery problem and growing

The ocean is changing all the time however the speed and nature of the recent changes related has links to human activities. (See related articles here, here and here)

Jellies may be change indicator species and reports around the world are telling us about growing numbers of seajelly 'smacks' or' swarms' or 'blooms'. 
A common Australian jelly, Catostylus mosaicus, or blue blubber jelly (Photo courtesy of Tony Isaacson)
The blue blubber (or brown blubber in some parts of Australia) is quite a common sight and last year a Queensland man took a video of a massive swarm off the coast. However this relatively mild cnidarian does not appear to have gone into the kind of plague proportions we are hearing about in Japan, Scotland, Israel or Florida where the size and numbers of jellies have caused serious problems for nuclear power and desalination plants.

Probably the most spectacular example are the devastating blooms of the massive jellies,  'Nomuras', off the coast of Japan. As adults they weigh in  at 220kg and measure 2m in diameter. They have been swarming in the Japan Sea since 2002, clogging fishnets and overturning trawlers owing to their size. (see BBC article here).

Why is this happening? Some scientists remind us that we have been taking too many fish from the sea that eat jellies. Others point out that changes occurring from human activities like; marine pollution from stormwater, ocean acidification and temperature rise to name a few, may just be giving jellies the edge they need to reclaim the ocean where they were once the top predator hundreds of millions of years ago.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Great Victorian Fish Count 2013

Victoria's Reef Watch and VNPA are hosting another community monitoring event to see how the fish are going in the south east. Here's your invitation.

Saturday Nov 23 to Sunday Dec 8

Grab your fins, wipe your snorkel, take a deep breath and start your count down.
The VNPA's Great Victorian Fish Count 2013 is nearly here.
Last year more than 350 divers and snorkellers from 25 groups throughout Victoria made the Fish Count a fabulous success -- help us make 2013 the biggest event yet!
The Fish Count is a fabulous way to explore Victoria's beautiful sea and a practical way to make our oceans healthier and happier places for our unique marine plants and animals to live.
Great Victorian Fish Count 2011
> Fact sheet
> Reef Watch
> Watch video
> Fish Count manual
> Fish Count ID guide
We'll post details soon on how to get involved, but until then if you have any questions please contact Wendy Roberts on (03) 8341 7446 or email
We look forward to seeing you beside the seaside.

Divers taking part in the Great Victorian Fish Count monitor reefs all along our coastline.

Monday, September 23, 2013

What is it about corals?

We love our corals, those tiny animals who build such big colourful and heavily armed homes. Australia is well known for it's tropical coral reefs and some of our corals live in deeper waters and in cooler southern waters.

Stinging seajellies and anemones are related to corals so be careful not to touch them.

Hard corals make large constructions (reefs) of calcium carbonate so it is a surprise to find out that coral polyps that live as single animals that can be agile and move around. The mushroom coral can flip itself right over as it forages on the bottom.

Corals like their own space too. If a neighbour gets too close it means war. Stinging cells are sent out and the coral with the greatest fire power wins.

But what makes coral so important to us?

In earlier days sailors greatly feared coral seas and ships that strayed too close risked becoming wrecked. Navigation and pilotage systems are far advanced and now keep vessels on a safe course.

Increasingly we value these very old, diverse reef ecosystems for the environmental services they provide. Coral reefs are homes and breeding grounds for marine wildlife and diversity is essential in keeping the ocean healthy. Plants and animals of coral reefs not only provide abundance they are also important sources of new medicines.

Some coral reefs can be so vast that they can be seen from outer space. They attract visitors and bring dollars for the communities who look after the reef values.

Coral reefs join other coastal buffering zones like mangroves, seagrasses and salt marshes in protecting our shorelines against waves and storms.

There is a lot to love about corals. Students and communities can become involved in looking after our magnificent corals by becoming citizen scientists with Coral Watch here and by checking out AUSMEPA's unit of work for middle year students, the Effect of Climate Change and Coral Bleaching here.
Coral Workshop, low tide at N Stradbroke Island, Qld

Sunday, September 15, 2013

REEFSearch Marine Education Kit by Reef Check Australia

reef check logoThe REEFSearch Marine Education Kit is now ready for purchase, and is being offered at $230, including postage within Australia.  The Kit is full of engaging, colourful, hands on activities for educators to engage students in reef health monitoring, reef appreciation, and reef conservation. 

The Kit is designed to complement the REEFSearch program here in raising awareness about reef conservation, promoting community engagement in reef health issues, improving knowledge about reef ecosystems, and inspiring responsible environmental behaviours.  It helps to bring reefs to the classroom and students to the reef, providing practical and engaging data collection tools. 
Included in the REEFSearch Marine Education Kit:
·         32 page Teacher Support Guide
·         2 X REEFSearch Field Kits (52 Page REEFSearch Field Guide, reusable underwater REEFSearch slate with pencil and hand strap, plus an awesome calico bag to keep everything safe!)
·         CD with 2 PowerPoint presentations: Introduction to Coral Reefs, and Threats to the reef
·         Activity: Classroom Reef Walk (80 double sided full colour image cards to simulate various reef scenarios)
·         Activity: Who Am I fact sheets and cards (16 double sided full colour photo cards plus fact sheets)
·         Activity: Who’s Eating Who (3 magnet sets: 24 magnets in total)
·         Activity: Fact the Facts (20 marine debris mix and match cards plus fact sheets)
·         Activity: Trivia (30 questions for 3 rounds of trivia plus answer sheet)
The number of Kits are limited, so if you are interested in purchasing one, please check Sea Store for details. 
If you have any questions or comments, please email our good friends at

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Have you ever watched a sea anemone move?

Can there be a coordinated approach to Coastal Management?

AUSMEPA notes that a new group has formed with just that in mind. Members of the new Australian Coastal Advocacy Alliance incorporate Coastal Council groups from South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales as well as the National Sea Change Taskforce, Queensland Regional NRM Groups Collective, Surf Life Saving Australia and the Surf Rider Foundation Australia have decided to take the task on. 

As result of this initiative we are seeing some documented articles arising on their website which will be interest to students and teachers.

kings                                            . ·             
"The Australian Coastal Advocacy Alliance has been formed to call for a coordinated approach from all levels of Australian government to planning and maintaining our coast. "
· · in   Coastal CouncilsPlanning

Monday, August 26, 2013

LOVE EVERY DROP; St Macartans Primary School

Receiving their AUSMEPA cheque with Bob Winters
AUSMEPA is incredibly proud of so many of our Australian schools for their endeavours to find sustainable solutions both in the classroom, in their communities and on school grounds.  One of our favourite schools is St Macartans Primary School.
Macartans recently received and AUSMEPA grant of $1500 to assist them with the Mangrove component of their brilliant 'Love Every Drop' project. The students are collaborating  with another school to grow mangrove seedlings that are to be planted in Victoria's Western Port Bay later this year.

Mangroves, nursery and buffering zones

The school has already achieved a 5 Star Resource Smart School accreditation. They lead, mentor and support many other schools by hosting student conferences, teacher conferences and a Sustainability Fair. The students write a weekly newsletter that is posted on their dedicated sustainability website at

Planting a swale with native plants

On school grounds students have created ponds and planted swales with native and indigenous plants. These water sensitive urban design features reduce run-off from untreated stormwater. A rain garden collects, filters and treats stormwater before it enters the stormwater drainage system. Their wetland also improves the local catchment by using natural depressions to enhance water absorption into underground aquifers.

By managing rainwater locally, there is a reduction in the need for larger infrastructure projects downstream from the school. The native animals are also winners. Swales and wetlands improve the environment for frogs, a key species in identifying the health of waterways.  
Students assess water quality by measuring pH, nitrate and phosphorous levels and report to the school community through their newsletters and other media.

Water Sensitive Urban Design

All of these careful considerations and actions not only protect the environment on the school grounds but also the catchment leading into the coastal waters where essential buffering zones such as Mangroves, struggle against the increasing impacts of catchment changes and pollution.

Another great school doing great things. Learn more about Marine Stormwater Pollution on AUSMEPA's student research pages      here

Friday, August 9, 2013

BrisbaneTeacher Workshop: Environmental Education and Sustainability in the Australian Curriculum

AUSMEPA friends, the Global Learning Centre, are assisting teachers to satisfy their professional development commitments under the AITSL National Professional Standards for Teachers by holding a one day workshop.

Where: Bulimba State School, Oxford Street, Bulimba
When: Saturday 21st September 2013
Time: 8:00 am to 3:00 pm
Cost: $60 Non-members $40 GLC members/students

Keynote: The importance of Environmental Education for Global Citizenship

Please register your interest at

2013 Annual NSW Coastal Management Award Nominations Open Now

The Annual NSW Coastal Management Awards are presented to publicly recognise and acknowledge the contributions of individuals, groups, organisations and agencies toward the ecologically sustainable management of the NSW coastal zone.
You are invited to nominate a colleague, industry partner, organisation or group in any of the following categories:
  • Ruth Readford Award for Lifetime Achievement
  • Innovation
  • Community Involvement
  • Local Government
  • Student Research
  • Public Good Award
The awards will be presented at the 22nd NSW Coastal Conference Dinner
on Thursday 14th November 2013
at Rydges, Port Macquarie.
Further information on the awards and to nominate please click here (also attached to this email)
Award Nominations Close Friday 11th October 2013
Registration is also open for the 2013 NSW Coastal Conference!
For Further Information, please contact the Conference Managers:
EAST COAST CONFERENCES: Amy McIntosh, Jayne Hindle, Linley Blain, Jodie McCormick