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Australia got ‘In the Zone’ to discuss our region’s marine future

13 October 2017

NMSC Chair Tim Moltmann attended the 2017 In the Zone Conference – “The Blue Zone” in Perth, WA, earlier this month. The conference, hosted by the Perth USAsia Centre, aimed to address issues, challenges and opportunities facing Info-Pacific nations regarding their marine estates.

High profile speakers included The Hon Julie Bishop, Australia's Minister for Foreign Affairs and Senator Penny Wong, Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and Member of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security.

The Hon Julie Bishop described Australia as “undoubtedly a maritime nation” and as “taking a leadership role in the global response to managing the world’s oceans.” She spoke to the key issues of the National Marine Science Plan and quoted the Plan’s forecast of the economic contribution of Australia’s marine industries at around $100 billion a year by 2025.

Senator Penny Wong addressed the conference from a foreign policy perspective, describing it as a national enterprise helping “deliver to our citizens the benefits of living in a globalised world.” She put a strong emphasis on Australia’s relationship with India and its importance for our next wave of economic growth.

Members of Australia’s National Marine Science Committee were well represented at the conference. Professor Erika Techera, Director of the UWA Oceans Institute at The University of Western Australia, spoke to the topic ‘Understanding the maritime realm – a new way of thinking’ early in the day and later was part of the concluding keynote and discussion. UWA was a major sponsor of the event.

Other NMSC representatives addressing the conference were Dr Paul Hardisty, Chief Executive Officer of AIMS, Dr Tony Worby, Director of CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere and Dr Nick D'Adamo, Officer in Charge of the Perth Programme Office of the UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission.

Drs Hardisty, Worby and D’Adamo presented alongside politicians, policy-makers and industry representatives, all there to provide their perspective on the region’s collective contribution to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG14) of seeking to ‘Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources’.

Other speakers addressed a range of issues, including the fleet of industry-owned vessels operating in the region and the potential for collaboration with the research community as well as the increasing availability of national Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) data, notably from Indonesia and Peru.

Overall, the conference offered a great opportunity to hear from a range of players in the emerging blue economy and to explore how the Indo-Pacific maritime realm continues to shape the politics, technology and livelihoods of our collective nations.

More detailed accounts of the speeches of Minister Bishop and Senator Wong can be found here.