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New icebreaker a boost for Australian science

29 April 2016

Assistant Minister for Science Karen Andrews has welcomed the Federal Government’s investment in a new world-leading Antarctic icebreaker for Australia.

Mrs Andrews said the new icebreaker further demonstrates the Government’s commitment to Australian science and supports Australia’s position of science leadership in Antarctica.

“This icebreaker will enable Australia to conduct seafloor mapping and charting in the Southern Ocean, in support of the Australian Antarctic Strategy and 20 Year Action Plan, also announced this week by the Government,” she said.

“The Australian Antarctic marine jurisdiction represents about 2.2 million square kilometres, roughly 15 per cent of Australia's marine estate, yet less than one per cent has been adequately mapped by modern seafloor mapping techniques.

“The technology on the new icebreaker will greatly enhance our seafloor mapping capability, enabling Geoscience Australia and its partners to develop a greater understanding of marine ecosystem habitats and biodiversity.”

Mrs Andrews said the information collected through seafloor mapping is essential for the development of evidence-based environmental management and monitoring, supporting the Government’s commitment to the Antarctic Treaty System and its marine environmental protocols.

“Mapping of the seafloor not only collects fundamental data to support a range of Antarctic science including oceanography, climate studies and ice sheet dynamics, but also provides a new level of accuracy for developing nautical charts – ultimately reducing the risk to shipping,” Mrs Andrews said.

“Australia’s new icebreaker is the single biggest investment in the history of Australia’s Antarctic programme and essential for Australia to support a world-class science strategy in Antarctica into the future.”

Media contact: Mrs Andrews' office 02 6277 4360
Department media: media [at] industry.gov.au