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To Save the Seas – Declaration of a Voluntary Commitment

The Oceans are the cradle of life but are seriously endangered by human action and inaction. Pollution is the most serious threat and current environmental efforts and regulations alone are inadequate to control it. Accordingly, special additional efforts are urgently needed to remove this threat and save the seas; furthermore

Australia is blessed with one of the largest coastlines in the world, with an abundance of precious marine resources, with an almost endless array of fine beaches, and with the Great Barrier Reef, a World Heritage Site, considered to be one of the wonders of nature: therefore

Believing that protection of the marine environment generally, and Australia's marine environment specifically, and the use of the oceans, the land-sea interface, and the exploitation of ocean resources are compatible, providing that humanity exercises care, restraint and understanding; and

Confirming that the protection of the world's environment requires the highest moral commitment that must take precedence over, but is compatible with, trade, commerce and development:

We, as a group of concerned Australians. From all sectors of the community, involved in all occupations, trades and professions in the private and public sectors and ranging from school age to seniors, but totally united in a commitment to protect Australia's precious marine environment, sincerely believe that;

(a) An ethic based on respect and care for the Earth is the foundation of sustainable living and that developments should not take place at the expense of other groups or later generations, nor threaten the survival of other species;

(b) The benefits and costs or resource use and environmental conservation should be shared equitably among different communities and between our generation and those who will come after us;

(c) Development must be conservation-oriented and must protect the structure, function and diversity of the world's natural systems, on which we depend. To do this, we need to conserve life-support systems, which are the ecological processes that keep the earth fit for life and which shape climate, cleanse air and water, regulate water flow, recycle essential elements, create and re-generate soil and beaches, and enable ecosystems to renew themselves;

(d) To adopt an ethic for sustainable living, humanity must re-examine its values, alter its behaviour by not taking the environment for granted, and promote values that support this ethic and discourage those that are incompatible with the sustainable way of life;

(e) Information must be disseminated and environmental consciousness increased through formal and informal education, consultation, training and all kinds and types of networks, so that needed environmental actions are as widely and fully understood as possible;

(f) In Australia, federal and state government rules and regulations, intended to protect the environment generally, and the marine environment specifically, can be augmented, complemented and strengthened by voluntary action at all levels of the community, in order that the nation's lands, coasts, waters and seas are better protected from pollution and other environmental damage;

(g) Australians, with their appreciation of nature, water and the oceans, and their commitment to fairness, cooperation and equity, are capable of providing regional and global leadership in efforts to better protect precious environ mental and marine resources.

Accordingly, we, as concerned Australians, voluntary commit ourselves to increase local, regional, national and global efforts to reduce pollution and deterioration of the environment generally, and the marine environment specifically.

We furthermore declare:

  1. That we strongly support the global efforts to protect the environment as developed by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP);; the aims and efforts of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF); and the World Conservation Union (IUCN); the work of the International Maritime Organization (IMO); the notable goals of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED; all combined to achieve the overall environmental goals set out in the Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development, entitled Our Common Future.
  2. That we pledge our fullest commitment to comply with all local, state, federal, regional and international conventions, laws, regulations, directions and guidelines addressing the protection of the environment, that are promulgated in Australia, and that we will make every effort possible to encourage others to do likewise.
  3. That we pledge to advise and urge the various levels of government in Australia to give environmental protection the highest appropriate priority in terms of legislation and resources, and to promptly accept and comply with all international environment obligations
  4. That we pledge our expertise, knowledge, influence, energies and resources to raise the environmental consciousness of the Australian maritime sector specifically, and of all Australians generally, so as to provide leadership as part of the global effort to combine environmental regulation and voluntary will to generally reduce and eventually eliminate all types of pollution and other environmental deterioration.
  5. That we pledge to make a special effort to raise environmental concern and consciousness in Australia's primary and secondary school system as we believe strongly that the future generation must provide the leadership and face environmental problems with a much better understanding and commitment than previous generations.
  6. That we pledge to follow the positive example already developed in a number of other countries, which have established similar voluntary marine environment protection associations, such as that being initiated here. Leadership in this has been provided by the Hellenic Marine Environment Protection Association (HELMEPA), established in 1981 in Greece, which has not only set the precedent for the effectiveness of voluntary efforts, but has also initiated and supported similar efforts in Cyprus (CYMEPA); Turkey (TURMEPA); the Philippines (PHILMEPA); and Uruguay (URUMEPA);
  7. That in order to accomplish these goals, we pledge to support the initiatives contained in this Declaration to Save the Seas that establishes the Australian Marine Environment Protection Association (AUSMEPA),as well as the AUSMEPA Marine Pollution Action Plan, that provides the basis of our planned activities, wherever applicable and wherever our support is appropriate and necessary.


That in order to attain viable results, we, a group of concerned Australians, have produced and signed this our Declaration, as an initial effort to provide new directions for the protection of Australia's marine environment and invite all concerned Australians to become involved in this voluntary initiative by supporting the Australian Marine Environment Protection Association (AUSMEPA) in whatever way possible.

Declared at Newstead House, Brisbane on this Day the 13th July 2000

Signed & Sealed by:

Gregory B McGarvie


Marine Teachers Association of Queensland



Lachlan Payne

Chief Executive Officer

Australian Shipowners Association


Captain Steve Pelecanos


Australian Marine Pilots Association


Rhondda Alexander


Global Shipping Services Pty. Ltd.



Dr. Michael White

Principal, Maritime Law,

University of Queensland


Lefteris Mastrocostas


MB Ocean Services & Co Pty Ltd


Neil Baird

Managing Director

Baird Publications


Michael Alexander


Nautilus Shipping Australia


Special Endorsement

The Hellenic Marine Environment Protection Association (HELMEPA), established in 1982 as the world's first private sector voluntary marine environment protection association, provided a precedent and inspiration for AUSMEPA's foundation. HELMEPA is particularly pleased in being able to endorse this Declaration and Action Plan, which further strengthens and enhances global commitment to environmental protection

Captain Dimitris Mitsatsos

Director General

Hellenic Marine Environment Protection Association


Dr. Edgar Gold

Huestis Ritch

Honorary HELMEPA Member


Commander Ken McBride


Royal Australian Navy


Captain John Watkinson

Executive Director (Maritime)

Queensland Transport


Edward Anson


Australian Maritime Safety Authority


Captain John Watkinson

Executive Director (Maritime)

Queensland Transport



Debbie Best

Director, Secondary Schools

Education Queensland



Clive Davidson

Chief Executive Officer

Australian Maritime Safety Authority



Dr. Ken Moss

Managing Director

Howard Smith Towage Pty. Ltd.



Michael Julian


Marine Environment Protection Committee

International Maritime Organization


Anthe Philippides

Maritime Law Association of Australia & New Zealand


Bob Moffatt

Marine Education Society of Queensland

Cr. Kevin Bianchi

Representative of the Lord Mayor of Brisbane, Brisbane City Council



Memorandum of Cooperation

On Monday 5th June 2000 at Piraeus, Greece a Memorandum of Cooperation was signed between The Australian and Hellenic Marine Environment Protection Associations.

The two MEPAS pledged to join forces and work together to achieve the common goals outlined in the HELMEPA and AUSMEPA Declarations of Voluntary Commitment 'To Save the Seas'

The Memorandum of Cooperation was signed jointly by Mr. Peter Livanos, Chairperson of HELMEPA and Mr. Gregory McGarvie, Chairperson of AUSMEPA.

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