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25 September 2006

Marine scientists from the new Arafura Timor Research Facility on the Charles Darwin University campus will detail key research projects in a public forum on September 25.

The ATRF has become a major centre for research into marine life, fish stocks, the environmental impact of recreational fishing and even the effects of illegal fishing in Australian waters since it was officially opened last year.

Scientists are using a range of high-tech equipment in their projects, including a genetic sequencing analyzer which is used for mapping DNA.

A stable isotope ratio mass spectrometer, or SIRMS, is expected to come on stream later this year.

The SIRMS uses stable isotopes of carbon, nitrogen and sulphur to track the transfer of these elements in the environment.

ATRF is a joint venture between Charles Darwin University, the Australian Institute of Marine Science in Townsville and the Australian National University in Canberra.

ATRF chief executive Stuart Fitch says the forum will be the first opportunity for scientists to talk publicly about their important marine science research.

"The facility plays host to a range of researchers, with an impressive array of high-tech analytical equipment now at their disposal," he says.

"Such equipment means key research can be conducted in the Territory, rather than being sent south."

Among the projects to be detailed will be research into the whale shark, the targeting of jewfish by local fishermen, shark catches by illegal fishermen and the impact of the expansion of the Gove alumina refinery on fish stocks.

The free forum is at the Mal Nairn lecture theatre on the Charles Darwin University from am. There will be 0pen House at ATRF on the CDU campus from 4.45pm.

Media Contacts:

About the forum and the facilities:
Stuart Fitch , CEO ATRF
Phone: 08 8920 9277

About scientific research:
Dr Mark Meekan , scientist in charge
Phone: 08 8920 9240

Good visual material is available for television journalists.

Wendy Ellery , AIMS Media Liaison
Phone: 07 4753 4409
Mobile: 0418 729 265