Last Friday the Director of the Australian Antarctic Division Dr Tony Press and his counterpart from the Indonesian Agency for Marine and Fisheries Research, Dr Indroyono Soesilo, signed a Cooperative Agreement. Present at the signing ceremony were the Secretary of the Department of the Environment and Heritage, Mr David Borthwick, and Deputy-Secretary Dr Conall O’Connell.

Since 2000, when the Indonesian Minister for Marine Affairs and Fisheries raised with Minister Hill the possibility of Indonesian scientists participating in Australian Antarctic research programmes we have hosted four Indonesian scientists on AAD voyages. The first two, Dr Supangat and Mr Luckmann who travelled south in the 2001/02 season, presented a stone tablet, engraved with some words from the then President Mrs Megawati Sukarnaputri. The tablet was received on behalf of the Australian Government by Michael Carr, then Station Leader at Davis. The tablet is displayed in a prominent place in the Operations building at Davis.

The Cooperative Agreement takes forward our growing relationship with Indonesia in the field of Antarctic science and places Indonesian participation in our programme on a new footing. Our visitors have come from Indonesian Government agencies as well as universities around the country, and have spanned disciplines from biology to oceanography. The Cooperative Agreement allows for joint supervision of a graduate student and already moves are afoot to obtain support funding to enable a young researcher from the research Agency to join our krill research programme.

“This Agreement provides a formal statement of our new research relationship with our Indonesian colleagues”, said Dr Press after the signing. “It is our hope that it will open the door for more Indonesian scientists to join the widening circle of international collaborators that we are developing.”

The Agreement will run for five years and can be extended for further periods of five years.