Parliamentary Secretary for the Antarctic Dr Sharman Stone has congratulated the Australian Antarctic Division’s (AAD) Shaun Walsh on his appointment to head an international environment group.

Mr Walsh, an environment adviser with the AAD, was elected coordinator of the Antarctic Environment Officers Network (AEON) at the recent meeting of the Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programs (COMNAP) in France.

Dr Stone said that AEON’s main role was to improve the exchange of information and ideas about Antarctic environmental issues among COMNAP members and to provide advice on those issues.

“Basically, what this means is that member nations work together to achieve the best possible environmental guidelines and to learn from one another’s experiences to ensure that our impact in Antarctica has minimal effect.

“Most Antarctic Treaty nations are represented on AEON, so it is a matter of developing practical guidelines and communicating that information to COMNAP.”

Dr Stone said that COMNAP’s Training Network (TRAINET) would also be sharing information on different aspects of its procedures with a view to establishing closer cooperation between member countries’ programs. Australia has held the coordinator role for TRAINET for the past three years with a renewal for a further term.

“It makes sense for those of us working in Antarctica to pool our information on the practical and technical environmental issues and on training so we have a greater chance of coming up with the best guidelines,” said Dr Stone.

Dr Stone said that Shaun Walsh’ appointment to AEON was an acknowledgment of the respect in which Australia is held in the international Antarctic community.

Mr Walsh, whose appointment is for three years, takes over the post from Birgit Njaastad of Norway.