2012 Hobart

As Australia’s peak professional body for marine scientists from all disciplines and for over 60 years has promoted all aspects of marine science in Australia. AMSA operates with a membership network of individuals and corporate affiliates as a not-for-profit organisation.

AMSA-NZMSS 2012 Hobart

AMSA-NZMSS 2012 – Hobart, Tasmania : 1-5 July 2012


The AMSA-NZMSS 2012 Conference was held in Hobart, Tasmania from 1-5 July 2012 at the Wrest Point Hotel in the beautiful city of Hobart, with the theme of Marine Extremes & Everything In Between. The conference was the 49th Annual Conference for the Australian Marine Sciences Association Inc.


AMSA-NZMSS 2012 was a joint conference between the Australian Marine Sciences Association Inc. and the New Zealand Marine Science Society member organisations. Our organisations come together approximately every four years for a joint conference – the previous time was in Christchurch in 2007. The theme of the conference Marine Extremes – And Everything In Between is a reflection of the environmental events of the previous year, and covered extreme events such as cyclones, floods, tsunamis, dust storms, thermally-induced bleaching, hypoxia, ocean acidification, biological invasions or ecosystem shifts, to name a few, which can periodically dominate a marine environment. Extreme events provide opportunities to expand our knowledge and to test our understanding of environmental response to a single, pervasive force. Similarly, extreme environments, such as polar seas, deep-sea habitats or biodiversity hotspots, can challenge the paradigms developed in more moderate settings.


Program Handbook (pdf download, 10.6mb)

Oral Abstracts (pdf download, 1.65mb)
Poster Abstracts (pdf download, 875kb)
Conference Photos [link to Picasa webpage] 
(thanks to Annie Ford, Marie Senoir, RealEvents
& other incognito photographers)


Conference Reports

Report by Bob Hickman, NZMSS representative on the Conference Organising Committee

Report by Tim Lynch, Chair of the Conference Organising Committee


This year the Australian Marine Science Association’s (AMSA) welcomed our sister organisation, the New Zealand Marine Science Society (NZMSS) to join us to discuss ‘Marine Extremes and Everything in Between’. Held at the Wrest Point Casino in Hobart this was our fourth joint conference, with previous meetings in Auckland 1997, Townsville 2001 and Christchurch 2008. As this year’s conference chair I challenged everyone at the welcome function to take at least one step out of their comfort zone and to go and see a talk from a different discipline – this is how insights occur and multi-disciplinary science develops. As we move into a more extreme world I’m certain that this will be the approach we will need to take to advance our science throughout the oceans.


The conference was well patronised and came in near budget. Approximately 420 delegates attended; with 85 from New Zealand, most of the remainder from Australia and a small number of international visitors. Major sponsors for the conference included CSIRO, GeoScience Australia, AIMS, NERP biodiversity hub, Cawthron Institute and the NZ Department of Conservation; many thanks to these and all of our exhibitors and sponsors who in combination, provided $79,000 of the income.


As always there was an impressive almost ‘extreme’ diversity of science with talks ranging from picoplankton to whale sharks, from near global eddy resolving models to bio-optic as well as policy, marine technology, the deep benthos and many others. Of particular interest were the novel approaches by our New Zealand colleagues. Professor John Water’s use of snails as indicator species for boundary current extensions was a standout example of an elegant approach. In many ways our Kiwi cousin’s share common research questions, species, funding dilemmas and even personnel, with a surprising number of scientists developing careers across institutes in both countries. Our tradition of joint conferences provides a great way to maintain and develop this already close relationship.


Another great tradition of AMSA is to recognise excellence and the two winners of our major awards, David Griffin for the jubilee and Matt Sherlock for the technical award, are both worthy recipients. David’s ground breaking OceanCurrent website has not only allowed for a new ‘meteorological style’ view of ocean systems but have also saved lives, through its use by search and rescue teams. Matt’s work for the Science Engineering and Technology (SE&T) operational program at CSIRO has made the instrument dreams come true for numerous scientists, especially for acoustic and image sampling of fisheries and benthic ecological assemblages.


A recurring theme across many talks and disciplines, both from Australia and New Zealand, was the importance of time series. This year there was a large uptake by the research community of time series data being provided by Australia’s Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS). It was also heartening to see not only oceanographers but also marine and fisheries biologists – such as Russ Babcock’s investigations of the distribution of sub-tropical kelp and Scott Ling’s work on urchin barrens – using physical oceanography data in their research. A cautionary tale regarding time series was presented, however, by Scott Nodder. Describing how sediments traps have allowed for more detailed modelling of the global carbon cycle, Scott emphasised the need to resource not only the operations but also the people to actually crunch the numbers to develop the time series.


One of the more interesting aspects of the conference was the strong cross-patronage between the MPA and fisheries symposiums. I hope that the common ground, provided to both conservation and fisheries scientists at AMSA and NZMSS conferences, continues and expands. Understanding of spatial management and its simultaneous implications for both biodiversity and natural resource management appears to be a particularly fertile area for research.


This year the conference attracted considerable interest with approximately 280 talks and 70 posters presented. The number of requests for oral abstract presentations was oversubscribed and as organisers we welcomed this as demonstrating the growing prominence of the conference. This also signals the need for delegates to compete for places. I would like to congratulate the members of the scientific committee for the rigour they took in assessing submissions. As the peer review of abstracts becomes more critical, guidelines for how abstracts are assessed, which were developed by the scientific committee this year, will be made available for subsequent conferences.


The success of the conference was largely due to the fantastic work by members of the organising and scientific committees. For the organising committee: Kimberley Millers, Bob Hickman, Marie Sinoir, Lynnath Beckley, Anne Ford, Mark Baird, Troy Gaston and Chris Mabin all contributed significantly and were well supported by both Narelle Hall from Real Events, the professional conference organisers, and the staff from Wrest Point. I’d especially like to thank Bob Hickman, whose calm insistence on process and principle as well as his experience in running conferences was invaluable. The scientific committee, chaired by Karen Miller, provided an interesting and nicely organised program and both Mark Baird, who was a stalwart of both committees, and Nicole Hill should be congratulated on their hard work and grace under pressure.


Next year Kylie Pitt from our Queensland branch takes over the reins as the conference chair and I hope to see you all, and – as a delegate and not an organiser – possibly a few more talks, at our 2013 golden jubilee conference at the Gold Coast.


Tim Lynch
Chair AMSA-NZMSS 2012 Conference Organising Committee


Student Prizes

Congratulations to all student prizewinners. NZMSS had their own student prize awards, judged and awarded separately. The AMSA student prizes awarded at the 2012 Conference Dinner were as follows: •

• Ron Kenny Oral Award – Helena Baird (University of Tasmania)
• Ron Kenny Poster Award – Halley Durrant (University of Tasmania)
• Peter Holloway Physical Oceanography Award – Kelly Strzepek (Australian National University)
• FRDC Oral Award – John Ford (University of Melbourne)
• FRDC Poster Award – Kate Picone (University of Tasmania)
• VMSC Oral Award – Prue Addison (University of Melbourne)
• CSIRO Editor’s Choice Award – Andrew Olds
• Ernest Hodgkin Estuary Research Award – Paul Maxwell (Griffith University)
• Sea World Poster Prize – Travis Knox (Deakin University)
• Ron Kenny Oral (Highly Commended) – Ana Sequira (University of Adelaide)
• Ron Kenny Poster (highly commended) – Marie Sinoir