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Media Release

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

OCEANS HOLD THE KEY TO OUR FUTURE


25 March 1998

The Federal Government's commitment to oceans and the importance that oceans and human activity have on our weather systems was highlighted at the World Meteorological Day celebrations today by the Parliamentary Secretary responsible for the Bureau of Meteorology, Senator Ian Macdonald.

Senator Macdonald told the gathering celebrating the 48th Anniversary of the establishment of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) that the Federal Government had allocated $125 million to the Coasts and Clean Seas program.

"The Howard Government is determined to further our understanding of oceans and recognises the urgency of ensuring that our oceans are clean and well protected."

"Our oceans are very special places and have been the first base in scientific research into the El Nino phenomenon by meteorologists and oceanographers over the past decade. The work by some of Australia's best scientists has greatly increased our ability to understand and predict the extremes of Australia's climate and the Government will continue to support high quality research in this area."

Each year the WMO establishes a theme for its anniversary celebrations and in 1998, the International Year of the Ocean, has adopted Weather, Oceans and Human Activity.

"The 1998 World Meteorological Day theme recognises the interdependence of the atmosphere and ocean, and the importance of meteorological and oceanographic science and services for a wide range of human activities in the marine environment," Senator Macdonald said.

"The Government appreciates the importance of the environment and we recognise the need to understand the interactions between all of its components much better if we are to manage it wisely," he said.

The Weather, Oceans and Human Activity theme covers a range of weather and climate issues. The oceans support a multitude of important economic and social activities such as shipping and transport, tourism and recreation, oil and gas production, fishing and aquaculture and other marine-based industries such as pharmaceuticals and biotechnology.

"In recent decades, human activities have impacted significantly on our coasts and oceans," Senator Macdonald said. "More than ever before, society will look to the science community for sound advice, effective communication of information, new technologies and guidance for decision-making. The sciences of meteorology and oceanography will play a crucial role, especially in debates related to possible future changes in the earth's climate due to the enhanced greenhouse effect."

Mr Geoffrey L Holland, Chairman of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO, gave the World Meteorological Day Address - 'The Oceans, Weather and Human Activity'.

In his Address, Mr Holland explored the link between the future of our planet and the oceans, the establishment of ocean and marine information systems and the ability of present intergovernmental structures to cope with potential demands.

The Bureau's World Meteorological Day poster on the theme Weather, Oceans and Human Activity is being widely distributed to schools. The poster and a complementary booklet are available from Bureau offices in the State and Territory capitals.

Media are invited to the World Meteorological Day celebrations - 10.30 am, Wednesday 25 March, 150 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne

For further information, please contact:
. Ms Clare Richards (Senator Macdonald's office): (02) 6277 3665 or 0419 698 275
. Dr Bill Downey (Bureau of Meteorology): (03) 9669 4534

Commonwealth of Australia