Dr Tony Press has driven and nurtured Australia’s presence and scientific endeavours in Antarctica for the past ten years. Now, the Australian Antarctic Division’s director is looking to new horizons.

During the past decade Dr Press has taken a leading role in raising international awareness of the important scientific work Australia undertakes in Antarctica, and its relevance for shaping environmental protection.

Through his leading initiatives in the international community, the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) has adopted measures to stamp out illegal fishing in CCAMLR regions, making it more difficult for rogue fishers to catch and sell illegally-caught fish.

As Australia’s commissioner to CCAMLR, Dr Press’ most recent success was the recognition last month by CCAMLR of two areas of the Southern Ocean as Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems — the first time this has been done in Antarctic waters.

Earlier this year, an Australian-led expedition to waters off East Antarctica returned with the vast array of specimens, including several new species which were found in this previously unexplored region.

Dr Press was the first Australian to be elected Chair of the Antarctic Treaty’s Committee for Environmental Protection (CEP) and held the post for the maximum four year term, before handing over the reins in 2006.

During his tenure as CEP Chair, the Committee matured into the most productive component of the Antarctic Treaty, making environmental considerations a fundamental part of it.

The Treaty’s environmental decision-making is based on the advice of the CEP and addresses issues such the environmental impact assessment, conservation of flora and fauna, waste management, marine pollution and development of measures to protect areas of special significance.

Dr Press has continued to forge strong international connections, always with an eye to future research and collaborative partnerships to ensure global understanding of Antarctica.

The establishment of Australia’s Antarctic air transport system has been a major development for Australia’s scientific pursuits in Antarctica.

Dr Press has been able to see through to reality this critically important component of Australia’s engagement with Antarctica. The 50-year dream of a direct air connection between Australia and Antarctica has been realised.

Dr Press said that the Australian Antarctic Division’s simple vision of valuing, protecting and understanding Antarctica has been the driver of his time with the Antarctic program.

“It has been a great challenge, and a remarkable privilege, to lead Australia’s Antarctic efforts at a time when global awareness of the importance of Antarctic science, and the need to protect the Antarctic environment has never been higher.”

Dr Press takes up his new position as CEO of the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre in Hobart early in 2009.

Dr Press says that he looks forward to strengthening future Australian Antarctic research.


Dr AJ (Tony) Press

  • Tony Press became Director of the Australian Antarctic Division in 1998, with responsibility for the leadership, conduct, management and administration of Australia’s Antarctic program, and the administration of the Australian Antarctic Territory, and the Territories of Heard and MacDonald Islands.
  • Prior to his appointment to the AAD, Dr Press was the Head of the Environment Forest Taskforce in the Department of the Environment, after previously spending 12 years working in the Northern Territory working for Parks Australia.