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Media Release

Senator the Hon Ian Macdonald
Parliamentary Secretary to the
Minister for the Environment


12 July 1998

The safety of the Great Barrier Reef from oil spills and other marine pollution emergencies is the focus of an international seminar and workshop to be held in Townsville from 13-17 July 1998.

Senator the Hon. Ian Macdonald, Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment, said the timing of the MARPOLSER 98 conference, during the International Year of the Ocean, held special significance.

"With a coastline extending some 25,000 kilometres, Australia has a major interest in the marine environment. We are all too aware of the many factors that can cause quite dramatic changes to the marine environment," he said.

Townsville based Senator, Ian Macdonald, said the conference would examine the nature and methods by which agencies, such as the Bureau of Meteorology in Australia, provided appropriate and timely environmental information during marine pollution emergencies.

"The Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska is an example we certainly would not want repeated anywhere in Australia. So having the systems and infrastructure in place to assist with responses in the event of an emergency is a positive contribution to the goals of conservation and maintenance of a healthy marine environment," Senator Macdonald said.

"Our ability to analyse and predict the changing ocean surface winds is essential for tracking the movement of oil slicks, predicting the behaviour of ocean waves, and in calculating the rate of physical weathering of the slick.

The conference, which has attracted participants from more than 30 countries, has been organised by the World Meteorological Organisation and the Bureau of Meteorology. Sponsors include the International Maritime Organisation, and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (of UNESCO). Local participants include the Australian Maritime Safety Authority and Queensland Transport.

Media are invited to attend Senator Macdonald's opening address at 0900 on Monday 13 July at the Sheraton Townsville Hotel.

MARPOLSER is the Metocean Services for Marine Pollution Emergency Response Operations.

For further information, contact:
Philip Connole (Senator Macdonald's office): (07) 4771 3066 or 0417 063 605;
Clare Richards (Senator Macdonald's office): (02) 6277 3665 or 0419 698 275.

Commonwealth of Australia