CSIRO Media Release – 12 May 2009

The Federal Budget has delivered $120m in funds for a new “blue-water” marine Research Vessel to replace the Southern Surveyor.

The funding will also allow the Southern Surveyor to be at sea longer each year until the new vessel is built.

The Southern Surveyor which has been the backbone of marine research in Australia since 2003 will be 40 years old in 2011 – when the replacement vessel is due to be commissioned.

CSIRO Group Executive, Environment, Dr Andrew Johnson said the funding announcement was great news.

“This really is a major boost to marine research in Australia that will deliver long term benefits for our unique marine environment,” Dr Johnson said.

“There will be $29.6million over the next four years to allow for operating and maintaining the Southern Surveyor until the replacement vessel is launched”.

“This will allow us to direct our world class marine capability to deliver oceanographic, geo-scientific, fishery and ecosystem research and ensure vital integration between ocean, land and atmosphere research, including with respect to climate change.

“Once the new vessel is operating it will be at sea for about 300 days a year, compare to the 130 days a year the Southern Surveyor is currently able to do.

“While CSIRO will own and operate the new vessel, it will be a National Facility so other Australian and overseas research organisations can carry out research aboard a modern, efficient facility.”

Australia’s ocean territory is the third largest on earth and includes unique biodiversity and valuable resources. Marine science is critical for sustainable management of our ocean assets.