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New leader for AIMS WA

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19 May 2009

At a time of expansion of its research activities in the West, AIMS has appointed world renowned marine biologist Dr Jamie Oliver as its Western Australian research leader and head of the Exploring Marine Biodiversity research program based in Perth.

Dr Oliver, who has worked in senior scientific positions with the WorldFish Center in Penang, Malaysia, since 2000, has returned to Australia and to AIMS to add his expertise to the burgeoning WA research effort.

According to AIMS CEO Dr Ian Poiner, Dr Oliver brings a wealth of experience to a challenging role and is making a welcome return to the AIMS fold. During the 1980s he was one of a number of scientists who discovered the phenomenon of mass coral spawning on the Great Barrier Reef. He worked for AIMS in the mid-1990s in Townsville managing the Long Term Monitoring Program, and was also Senior Research Scientist for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. He is well known in the Australian and international marine science community.

"Jamie's pioneering work on the ReefBase global coral reef information system is just one example of his innovative scientific work in the field of coral reef research," Dr Poiner said.

ReefBase is the official database of the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network, as well as the International Coral Reef Action Network, and is housed at the WorldFish Center.

In his new role managing the Exploring Marine Biodiversity program, Dr Oliver will oversee a team that is filling the gaps in understanding of patterns and processes of tropical marine biodiversity, particularly in tropical Western Australia. Biodiversity research is one of AIMS' great strengths and is at the heart of the WA research program, a program that has been growing rapidly through recent agreements.

Earlier this year, AIMS signed a landmark memorandum of understanding with the University of Western Australia to develop joint research activities. Under the agreement, worth more than $2 million over five years, UWA and AIMS will share resources to build new capacity in Western Australia to address pressing marine science issues.

The new Oceans Institute being launched later this year on the UWA campus will be home to AIMS WA in due course.

AIMS' WA operations were greatly boosted last year with the announcement of a $35 million project to undertake a baseline environmental study of Scott Reef, off WA's Kimberley coast about 430 kilometres north-west of Broome.

This project is funded by Woodside Energy on behalf of the Browse Joint Venture and has allowed a significant expansion in AIMS personnel and research activities in WA.

AIMS is also a partner in the Western Australian Marine Science Institution (WAMSI). that is undertaking key research at Ningaloo Reef, one of Australia's iconic reef areas and marine park systems.

"AIMS is committed to developing Western Australian marine science as part of our role in providing underpinning knowledge to back government policy and management of Australia's huge marine estate," Dr Poiner said.

"We are fortunate to have Jamie on board to see our WA expansion through its next stages."

Dr Poiner also paid tribute to Simon Woodley, who has been acting AIMS WA research leader for a year, overseeing a period of significant growth.

For further information, please contact:

Dr Ian Poiner, AIMS CEO

Phone: 0419 702 652

Ms Liz Tynan

Phone: 4753 4235

E-mail: l.tynan

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