2008 Sydney Harbour Week Award winners announced

The man behind Sydney’s first marine biology institute was honoured for his long commitment and contribution to Sydney Harbour tonight, NSW Maritime Chief Executive Chris Oxenbould said.

Professor Frank Talbot won the most prestigious Sydney Harbour Week Award - for Lifetime Achievement. The awards, hosted and supported by NSW Maritime, recognise those who encourage the caring and sharing of Sydney Harbour by informing, educating or engaging the community.

“Professor Talbot worked tirelessly to establish the Sydney Institute of Marine Science (SIMS) at Chowder Bay,” Mr Oxenbould said.

The not-for-profit SIMS provides and promotes collaboration and research in urban marine ecology. Its facilities – including laboratories, lecture theatres, and conference/meeting facilities – are available to universities and government agencies, including 48 scientists and their students.

Numerous PhD projects are currently being worked on at SIMS, including a study into the mysterious mourning cuttlefish, found in many Sydney Harbour locations.

“SIMS facilities are helping us retain some of our best qualified marine biologists in Sydney, enabling them to study and work at their ‘front door’ rather than losing them to the likes of the Great Barrier Reef,” Mr Oxenbould said.

“Professor Talbot has been tenacious in his efforts to create a haven for marine biologists and their work on Sydney Harbour. The institute has been well received by the marine science community since opening last year. Although officially retired Professor Talbot still devotes a good deal of his time to SIMS, its operations and funding as the Honorary Chair of the SIMS Board.”

Members of the public are invited to tour the SIMS facility at 10am on the first Friday of each month. SIMS will also have an open day on 2 March with a series of free lectures as part of Sydney Harbour Week.

Sydney Harbour Week Award winners were tonight honoured in an event heralding the start to Sydney Harbour Week aboard the historic three-masted barque James Craig.

Other fifth annual Sydney Harbour Week Awards winners are:

* Artist – Andi Mether for the Chalk the Walk project on the Pyrmont Bridge

* Community – two awards recognising the outstanding work by volunteers at the Australian National Maritime Museum (namely Vivian Balmer, Paul Maile and Alfred Knight) and the Sydney Heritage Fleet (namely Bernie Norington, Hilary Hansen and Bruce Hitchman)

* Environment – Angelika Treichler for work with the Harbour’s fairy penguins

* Heritage – ‘No Frills Divers’ (Alan Simon, Phillip Hendrie, Anthony Hay, David Muir, David Arnold, Greg Kearns, Paul Baggott) for their discovery of the M24 submarine

* Indigenous – Alexandria Park Community School for an indigenous boat building project

* Tourism – Sydney Harbour Escapes for providing people with boating options to explore and experience the Harbour

For more information on winners’ achievements go to http://www.maritime.nsw.gov.au/wh/shwawards08.html

For more information on Sydney Harbour Week go to www.sydneyharbourweek.com.au

For more information on SIMS go to www.sims.org.au