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SCU hosts Australia’s first international conference on estuaries


2 June 2004
The intense pressure being placed on estuaries from increased human use will be among the topics discussed at an international conference hosted by Southern Cross University (SCU) from June 20.

It is the first time a joint Estuarine and Coastal Sciences Association (ECSA) and Estuarine Research Federation (ERF) conference has been held outside of the United States or Europe and it is expected to attract more than 250 delegates from around the world.

The chair of the conference, Associate Professor Bradley Eyre, said SCU, through the School of Environmental Science and Management, had been invited to host the conference because it was a leader in the field of estuarine research and management in Australia.

Dr Eyre said the conference, titled ‘Estuaries and Change’, was not only for scientists, but for anyone with an interest in estuaries, such as local councils. The conference will have a mix of scientific and management sessions to help understand the problems facing Australia’s and the world’s estuaries, and also to find solutions.

He said global change, of which climate change was just one factor, was one of the most pressing environmental issues facing the world.

“No where is this change being seen more than estuaries. Located at the boundary of the land, sea and atmosphere, estuaries are affected by changes occurring in all three adjacent systems,” Dr Eyre said.

However, one of the most difficult tasks facing estuarine scientists was determining what was ‘natural’ change and what was being caused by human use.

The conference will focus on polar through to tropical estuaries and include topics such quaternary evolution, morphology, ICOLLs, wetlands, biogeochemistry, phytoplankton, zooplankton, macrofauna, contaminants, chemical tracers, acid sulphate soils, new instrumentation and methods, mangroves, seagrasses, fisheries, freshwater flow allocation and management.

“Australia is in a unique position because we have tropical estuaries right through to polar estuaries. We have around 1000 estuaries and a lot of them are in pristine condition because of Australia’s low population.

“We have an opportunity to do something about our estuaries before they end up degraded like those in the heavily urbanised areas of Europe and the US.”

The plenary speakers for the conference are: Professor Michael Kemp, University of Maryland, US; Professor Robert Twilley, University of Louisiana, US; Associate Professor Ronnie Glud, University of Copenhagen, Denmark; Professor Victor de Jonge, University of Groningen, Netherlands; and Professor Mike Elliot, University of Hull, UK.

The conference will be held at the Ballina Conference Centre, Ballina RSL, from June 20 to 24. For information visit the website:

Media contact: Brigid Veale, SCU Media Liaison, 66593006 or m. 0439 680 748.