Sunday, November 20, 2016

Laundry and marine pollution


What a chore. It's a must, though, and we've known for a long time that it is a potential source of environmental pollution as it carries so much 'product' with it. Sewage treatment plants have systems set up to deal with these chemicals. However the Marine Pollution Bulletin has alerted us to another unseen pollutant that may not be well accounted for by sewage treatment.

Key points from the article were that:

  • Washing clothes made from synthetic materials is potentially important source of microplastic into the environment.
  • The study examined the release of fibres from common fabrics; polyester, polyester-cotton blend and acrylic
  • Fibre release varied according to wash treatment with various complex interactions
  • For an average wash load of 6kg, over 700,000 fibres could be released per wash.

We can add this new consideration to the growing awareness regarding micro plastics entering the ocean and subsequently the food chain. 

Something to take onboard is that polyester/cotton blend fabrics gave off fewer fibres than other synthetics tested. 

Addtional reference:  “Our laundry a source of marine microplastic pollution” The Blue Reporters, 14 November 2016.…lastic-pollution/ 

Friday, October 28, 2016

Global rules on shipping fuel sees a big change

The United Nations has now set regulations to limit sulphur emissions by 2020. This is a big change and it will affect both the atmosphere and an industry that is currently in a severe downturn.

Shipping is among the world's largest emitters of sulphur behind the energy industry.

“This is a landmark decision and we are very pleased that the world has bitten the bullet and is now tackling poisonous sulfuric fuel in 2020,” said Bill Hemmings of campaigner Transport & Environment.

“This decision reduces the contribution of shipping to the world’s air pollution impact from about 5 percent down to 1.5 percent and will save millions of lives in the coming decades.”

The changes will no doubt see a rise in shipping costs and at the cash register.

See more at Hellenic Shipping News here

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Google Impact Challenge Australia 2016 - selections completed, let the projects begin!

The Google Impact Challenge for Australia 2016 has finished. The finalists and top choices have been made.

AUSMEPA would like to thank Google for the opportunity to compete in the challenge and congratulate all finalists for their excellent contributions to the field. Thanks also to the hundreds of thousands of supporters for these projects. 

For those who supported and voted for the AUSMEPA Ports Emissions Portal project to track and ulitmately reduce emissions in and around ports, we thank you unequivocally.

Monday, October 24, 2016


The time is almost gone. Only tomorrow is left to get your votes in for the finalists of the Google Impact Challenge Australia 2016.

The Australian Marine Environment Protection Association (AUSMEPA)  is one of 10 finalists in the Challenge and we need online votes. 

AUSMEPA’s project, the Port Emissions Portal, addresses the current lack of essential ship emissions data for the shipping industry. Utilising satellite tracking and a big data approach, the platform will enable ports and their stakeholders to measure air quality and changing air patterns throughout the port environs.

Starting in Australia and scaling up to over 170 countries, AUSMEPA’s port emissions portal plans to connect over 3,000 ports and improve the knowledge of air emissions associated with shipping activities in port for transparency and better management.

If you could vote for our environmental project that would be AWESOME! You can vote on every electronic device too. 

Thanks in advance!


or simply go to our website and click on the icon at

Monday, October 3, 2016

AUSMEPA selected as Google Impact Challenge finalist for Port Emissions Portal project

4 October 2016 today announced that AUSMEPA’s Port Emissions Portal has been selected as one of ten finalists in the 2016 Google Impact Challenge in Australia, which awards funding to Australian non-profit innovators with big ideas for a better world.

AUSMEPA’s project, the Port Emissions Portal, addresses the current lack of essential ship emissions data for the shipping industry. Utilising satellite tracking and a big data approach, the platform will enable ports and their stakeholders to measure air quality and changing air patterns throughout the port environs.

“AUSMEPA’s clear mandate is to protect Australia’s maritime environment, and one of the biggest challenges we are facing is climate change. This is not just a local issue, however action has to start at a local level. With shipping’s exclusion from the COP21 global agreement on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, we are taking a leading role in providing the industry with effective solutions” said AUSMEPA Chairman, Capt Warwick Norman.

Starting in Australia and scaling up to over 170 countries, AUSMEPA’s port emissions portal plans to connect over 3,000 ports and improve the knowledge of air emissions associated with shipping activities in port.

As part of an international community of MEPAs (Marine Environment Protection Associations) Capt Norman said "AUSMEPA’s plan was to work with their international counterparts to provide a locally-initiated, global solution to shipping’s contribution to greenhouse gas emissions."

AUSMEPA could be one of four organisations to receive a $750,000 grant to further to assist in developing the port emissions portal. The six additional finalists will receive $250,000.

A judging panel will select three winners, and a fourth will be selected based on public voting, which is open from 4 – 25 October via

Alan Noble, Google Australia’s Director of Engineering, said “We know good ideas combined with technology can help to solve some of the world’s biggest challenges. Ten Australian non-for-profits have been selected as finalists in the latest round of the Google Impact Challenge for their outstanding ideas to use technology to make an impact on important causes.”

AUSMEPA are encouraging all maritime industry stakeholders around the world to support their initiative and vote for increased transparency and improved knowledge of air emissions caused by shipping activity in ports.

Anyone can go online and vote in favour of the AUSMEPA project here

The Australian Marine Environment Protection Association (AUSMEPA) is dedicated to protecting Australia’s marine environment, which hosts an abundance of precious marine resources and an array of fine beaches.
AUSMEPA is a not-for-profit supported by leading maritime companies, individuals and organisations. Funds raised are used to create no-cost, innovative and practical educational resources for schools, seafarers and other users of the marine environment.
At the forefront of tackling issues that directly affect Australia’s marine environment, AUSMEPA are partnering with maritime vetting specialists RightShip to develop a ‘port emissions portal’. This platform will provide transparent data on shipping emissions by monitoring the air quality and changing air patterns in port environs.
AUSMEPA is a founding member of the International Association of Marine Environment Protection Associations (INTERMEPA)
AUSMEPA Chairman, Captain Warwick Norman, was also elected as Chairman of INTERMEPA in June 2016.

For further information
Julie Nash - Executive Officer
0412 876 109  

Thursday, August 25, 2016

RUBBISH - if you see it pick it up!

What we do or don't do affects our oceans and not just during Seaweek.
Please watch this excellent clip by Josie Jones with a plea to pick up rubbish wherever we see it.

Sunday, August 14, 2016


Originally hosted by the Marine Education Society of Australasia (MESA), National Seaweek is an annual event to "Celebrate the Sea". With the passing of MESA the Australian Association of Environmental Educators (AAEE) has picked up the banner and is offering people the opportunity to run or participate in a variety of activities around the country. 

Many Australian marine educators, including the author of this article, assisted in developing the 7 Principles of Ocean Literacy [here]

Ocean Literacy means understanding the ocean’s influence on you and your influence on the ocean. The 7 principles of Ocean Literacy are ideas scientists and educators agree everyone should understand about the ocean.  

The AAEE Marine Group have chosen to theme the next 7 years of Seaweek to follow those principles.  

This year's theme is OL Principle One: 

Join in on the fun with AAEE

Thursday, July 28, 2016

What is pollution and how does it happen?

Pollution, it is a funny word. It is used so often these days however it is derived from the latin word pollutionem which means 'make dirty'.

That makes perfect sense when pollution can be defined as the presence in or introduction into the environment of a substance which has harmful or poisonous effects. Pollution makes the environment dirty.

Wait a minute. Who is making the environment dirty? Have a good look around you, and in the mirror too, because people are the biggest producers of pollution. Since almost all people live on the land it is logical and well documented that most pollution comes from the land.

Example: When we go to the store and buy a packaged item we don't call it pollution. It is only after we removed the item we want from the package that the packaging itself becomes waste matter. 

Packaging waste can become pollution when not disposed of properly. For instance have you noticed that there is often rubbish (pollution) outside take away food shops, the sides of roads, building sites or shopping centres? 

This visible pollution can be picked up in the wind and carried far away however, as with many kinds of pollution, the cleansing rains often pick it up and transport it down through drains to the rivers and streams to lakes, estuaries and eventually to the sea. 

Packaging waste that is recycled can find another life as a useful product and some innovators actually re-purpose waste into new things, like clothing, floor surfaces or furniture. We could call that sustainable solutions for waste. We need lots of people thinking about sustainable solutions to reduce pollution.

OK well how about another example, fuel. Although some of the processes used to make fuel can cause pollution, fuel isn't actually pollution when we put it into our fuel tanks. However once we have used it in our vehicle a few things happen. One is that chemical residues leave the car and go unseen up into the air creating air pollution. Some residues splash or drip from the exhaust pipe or engine right onto the road to become pollution. 

The chemicals in the air will eventually fall down onto the land or roofs or roads. These chemical residues get washed away in run-off from rainstorms sending poisons straight into the stormwater drains that lead to the sea. People are thinking about how to change this.

Although these are only a couple of examples of pollution, can we challenge you to think about all the things around you that will become waste and what life they may have as pollution afterwards? 

Every action that we make or take changes our environment. Is there a way that you might use your own actions to make things better? 

Could you find ways to use less packaging, recycle, re-purpose or or simply keep stormwater cleaner by keeping chemicals out of the drains?

Our oceans are a precious asset providing us with food, adventure, and much that is yet undiscovered. By being thoughtful about air and land pollution you can help keep our seas clean.

Learn more about Marine Stormwater Pollution here

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

FOR TEACHERS: The Coral Garden

A great accompaniment to the AUSMEPA unit of work on The Effect of Climate Change on Coral Bleaching here will be the clip below.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Bush Rangers WA cadets learning to care for the land to the sea

Western Australia is a big part of Australia and there are wonderful things to see, learn and do there. Parks and Wildlife WA have a Bush Rangers program that has a lot of territory to cover. Follow the links below to find out more about caring for the land from the catchment to the sea.
The Bush Rangers WA program could not operate without the commitment, support and passion of teachers, parents and other
The Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPaW) protects and conserves the State’s natural environment on behalf of the people of Western Australia.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

MarineWATERs; Western Australian educational resources

For many years the Dept of Fisheries in WA has been developing some great of marine educational resources. Have you ever wondered how some of our weird and wonderful marine creatures mate? Here is one of their resources demonstrating how the prickly skinned rock lobster gets busy with that special someone.

Check out the MarineWATERs Facebook page at /

or their website blog

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Marine bioluminescence reveals how bacteria talk

Brilliant TED Talk by Bonnie Bassler on how bacteria communicate. You will never think about bacteria in the same way again.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Dredging, what's it all about?

If you need to get around the big country of Australia you need some sort of infrastructure. We have roads that crisscross the continent that emanate from the country towns and interstate to the cities from the cities and ports to overseas destinations. 

On the land the transport is usually by train or by road. On the sea transport uses port channels to pick up and move goods and people. 

Whether they are made from sand, dirt, rubble, asphalt or metal these connecting pathways need to first be built and then maintained. In both sorts, land and sea, there is a major change to the landscape and the environment. The most dramatic change is at the start of new projects however they must also be progressively maintained with subsequent collateral impacts. 

Rail and roads plow through forests and cut through mountain passes disrupting wildlife corridors. Although hats are off to the few states that build the occasional wildlife bridge over or underpass. 

We don't seem to pay a great deal of attention to what is being transported on land eg. logs, minerals, gas or crops, unless they cause traffic congestion for other users. However we all care about our beautiful land and sea and need to be more aware of how big changes to our landscape can have a rolling effect, including dredging.

With the current low environmental effect of shipping (2.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions) including the statistically low numbers of infrequent but distressing events like oil spills and new port infrastructure, dredging is largely merely a maintenance issue.

Ports Australia give insights in two reports that should be taken into account within any dredging debate:

2. Temperate ports 

Largely overlooked in the dredging debate is that new ports are built as a result of demand for goods. New ports are built closest to their market place. The big question, in respect of dredging, may relate to whether the products being imported or exported are justified in a triple bottom line context (environment/social/economic balance).

For instance Australia exports non-renewable fossil fuels by sea. Do we have other export choices that may not require new ports near vulnerable sea areas. The real cost of energy article (relying on renewable energy or non-renewable) by Huffpost can be viewed as an information resource here.

Through all of these reports and debate one primary underlying question remains...does the environment hold an equal weight in the triple bottom line equation?

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

What agreement oversights pollution over the entire ocean?

Wikipedia says:
"The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), also called the Law of the Sea Convention or the Law of the Sea treaty, is the international agreement that resulted from the third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS III), which took place between 1973 and 1982. The Law of the Sea Convention defines the rights and responsibilities of nations with respect to their use of the world's oceans, establishing guidelines for businesses, the environment, and the management of marine natural resources. The Convention, concluded in 1982, replaced four 1958 treaties. UNCLOS came into force in 1994, a year after Guyana became the 60th nation to sign the treaty.[1] As of January 2015, 166 countries and the European Union have joined in the Convention."
That's a lot of territory! We'd like to focus on the marine environment for a moment. The International Maritime Organisation (IMO), in consideration of a major industry on the sea:

"Shipping – which transports about 90% of global trade – is, statistically, the least environmentally damaging mode of transport. Moreover, set against land-based industry, shipping is, overall, a comparatively minor contributor to marine pollution from human activities." 
see more here

They further advise that there are 51 treaty agreements for shipping here and 21 relate to the environment.

The Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) is IMO's senior technical body on marine pollution related matters for instance the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) in 1973.  

MARPOL has been instrumental in reducing the number of oil spills and a wider range of measures to prevent marine pollution including pollution from chemicals, other harmful substances, garbage, sewage and air pollution and emissions from ships.

Compliance on an international scale relies on all countries working together to ensure standards are met. There is some debate about compliance here and also thoughts about how to mitigate increased shipping emissions for the future here .

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Fruits and flowers under the sea

Surely plants with fruits and flowers live only on the land! Not so. A variety of true plants live in the coastal waters girting the Australian continent. Not that you may have noticed them.

Hang on, you might have noticed in a 'white noise' kind of a way. Have you ever turned up to a shore worthy of a boat launch and seen piles of strappy sea wrack mounds on the beach? Or have you noticed, when you see a beautiful the clear blue coastal water the darker shadowy patches breaking up your view of the sandy bottom? These darker blue-green patches are not the colourful coral reefs or the beautiful sponge gardens featured in many documentaries or tourism promotions. You are looking at the modest yet amazing seagrass meadows of Australia.
"Moreton Bay Seagrasses" brochure by UTC

Australia is the home to 30 of the 57 species worldwide. They are not grasses but terrestrial plants from the same line as lillies who have returned to live in the sea the same way that marine mammals did. Unlike the macro or micro algaes (seaweeds) they have flowers and fruits and roots too. The health of our coastal waters and the changing atmosphere are tied to these dynamic meadows.

Seagrasses have been a resource on the land as well as off. Historically we know that seagrass wrack was commonly used as insulation and sound proofing in early dwellings and it is non-flammable due to high silicon content. It has been used as thatching for roofs, binding soil, stuffing and packaging as well as weaving, fibre products and paper making.

Seagrasses of South Australia brochure, Environment Protection Agency, SA

And we know that fish and other animals use the seagrass as nurseries and hunting areas in the end ensuring food for fish, dugong, turtles, swans and us too! 

Most importantly these marine plants have a key part to play in mitigating rising CO2 in the climate change puzzle. 

The CSIRO Coastal Carbon Cluster website tells us that "Wetland vegetation (seagrass, mangroves, saltmarsh) occupy only two per cent of the world's seabed area, but are responsible for 50 per cent of the carbon transfer to the ocean sediments."

Seagrass meadows have proven to be strong carbon (Blue Carbon) sinks "with a hectare of the most effective seagrass meadows exeeding by tenfold the CO2 sink capacity of the pristine Amazonian forest" (taken from "Seagrass and the carbon paradox" by Carlos Duarte here)

Go seagrasses! 

Students wishing to take up a seagrass art/craft activity can visit the AUSMEPA Kids Investigating Sea Solutions (KISS) at

Saturday, January 23, 2016

FOR TEACHERS: What are Marine Dead Zones?

Dead zones are places where biological systems have been severely affected by the loss of oxygen in the water. Although some bacteria flourish feasting on dead plankton and other organisms who cannot otherwise migrate away from the affected area.

Dead zones can occur naturally however it is no coincidence that dead zones are increasing around the world. They occur often at river mouths and receiving waters that are collection points for runoff. Increased human activities have lead to greater amounts of nutrients and other pollutants coming off the land from wind and water. 

The link below is for an educational presentation describing the history of research related to Chesapeake Bay, with an emphasis on new insights into what controls the size of the dead zone, how its size has varied in past, and what we should expect in future decades. There are other case studies of interest also.

For Australian specific information see

Washed Ashore Exhibit at the San Francisco Zoo

AUSMEPA having launched online art activities for children here using upcycling and recycling concepts we find it heart warming to learn about the wonderful exhibition by artist Angela Hastletine Pozzi that was held at the San Francisco Zoo.

The clip was produced by our sister organisation, the North American Marine Environment Protection Association (NAMEPA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Sunday, January 17, 2016

TEACHERS: Wet Paper marine education resources

One of the respected names over the last twenty years and more, of marine education publication is Wet Paper. The materials are certainly relevant. If you wish to find out more, read on!


On Sale: $22.00
Printable childrens books and resources subject to copyright for 1 user.
On Sale: $22.00
Printable childrens books and resources subject to copyright for 1 user.
On Sale: $22.00
Printable childrens books and resources subject to copyright for 1 user.
On Sale: $22.00
Printable childrens books and resources subject to copyright for 1 user.

Marine Studies curriculum material for Australian Schools

Email Wet Paper  Ph: 07 5525 6122

BRAIN CORAL art project

Coral comes in so many interesting shapes and variations. Brain coral is one of them. It grows into a round ball shape with a maze-like pattern.

In the illustration above we are using a balloon, paper mache and jute twine to create the dome  shape of a brain coral.

What you need:
Look up an image of a brain coral  (see a photo at Arkive, here)

  •  A small to medium sized balloon suitable to cover with paper mache
  • Newspaper or tissue paper torn into pieces
  • Paper mache glue Paints & brushes & a glass of water to rinse
  • Straight sewing pins
  • Piece of flat cardboard
  • A ball of twine
  • Glue gun
  • Scissors
  • A designated wet work area

What to do:

  • Make up a batch of paper mache glue  -- 1 cup flour       and 1 cup water, and a few tablespoons of salt mixed     until smooth
  • Blow up your balloon to the size required and tie off the end
  • Cut a slit in the flat cardboard and slide the balloon  to the middle of the cardboard so that the paper mache doesn't make a mess on the table and it will help to hold the balloon steady
  • Cover your balloon  with 2-3 layers of newspaper or tissue paper that have soaked briefly in the paper mache glue
  • Allow to dry completely
  • Repeat the previous 2 steps, adding another 2-3 layers
  • Using your twine make a base for the brain bommie to sit on by wrapping it round and round the bottom of the shape (see illustration)
  • Observing the pattern of the brain coral you looked up earlier, you can begin to tack     the twine to the dome shape. This may prove a little difficult so you may choose to use sewing pins to pin your twine to the dried paper mache  [some students may need assistance]
  • When you are satisfied your squiggles are where you want them you can either paint   liberally with craft glue or tack down with a glue gun (heavier twine will require stronger glue) 
  • Allow to dry and remove from the cardboard station

Although brain coral are usually muted colours you may choose to paint your brain coral
Arrange your brain coral bommie into a Coral Reef project here