SETAC Australasia—The Newest Chapter of the SETAC Global Family
Ross Smith, Hydrobiology
Members of the Australasian Society for Ecotoxicology (ASE) voted to merge their society in 2011 with SETAC to become SETAC Australasia, the newest chapter of the SETAC global family. Traditionally, about one third of members of ASE have been members of SETAC as well as ASE and the members overwhelmingly saw the merger as a natural step in the growth and development of our society.
The ASE was established at an inaugural conference in Sydney, Australia in June 1994 to provide a forum for discussion and a network of communication and information exchange in the field of ecotoxicology in the Australasian and Asia/Pacific region. The ASE has enjoyed a vibrant mix of members, from academia and government and industry since inception. ASE had around 240 members at the time of the merger, which included a healthy mix of industry practitioners, consultants, academics and regulators. The ASE has long seen itself as training ground for future scientists and prides itself on providing a strong and supportive environment for student researchers. Indeed, much of its continued growth comes from the student-base from which graduates have taken up professional roles in the fields of ecotoxicology and environmental chemistry. From its initial Australia-centric membership, the ASE has expanded to include members from a number of Pacific countries, with a strong membership in New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Asia, including Hong Kong, Thailand, India and Indonesia. A feature of the ASE has been the (almost) annual conferences, 13 of which were held in various locations in Australia and New Zealand, and have brought together regional ecotoxicologists with invited speakers from USA and Europe. In 2008, the ASE conference was combined with the SETAC World Congress in Sydney, which helped benchmark the science emanating from ASE and other regional societies.
ASE has been supported by a number of sustaining member organizations including the NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change, the Australian Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, Ecotox Services Australia, Advanced Analytical and Hydrobiology. There are three Honorary Life Members of SETAC AU―Prof. Margaret Burchett, Dr. David Leece, and Prof. Des Connell. All were founding members of ASE and leaders in its establishment in 1994, as well as being widely recognized for their contributions in the field of ecotoxicology in Australasia.
ASE has been serviced since its inception by the freely available Australasian Journal of Ecotoxicology. Now up to its 15th volume, the journal has provided an avenue for publication of locally relevant ecotoxicological research, and has encouraged submissions from developing regional countries. The journal will change format with the merger, becoming the Australasian Bulletin of Ecotoxicology and Environmental Chemistry instead, without losing the quality of publications. The life of the ASE has also been documented in the regular newsletter, “Endpoint,” with regular contributions and updates from members on local and global issues and events.
For a small scientific community, the ASE has established several special interest groups including a particularly active “Micropollutants in Water” Special Interest Group. The group provides a platform to promote a broad exploration of current and future impacts of the water crisis on water quality and consequent health of humans, wildlife and ecosystems in Australia and New Zealand. It facilitates exchange of information and the development of research networks as well as attempting to make the science more accessible to those involved in water and chemicals policy. A significant outcome of the group has been strong Australia/New Zealand/United Kingdom collaborative research network, and a formal position statement for the society on endocrine-disrupting compounds in Australian waters. The merger with SETAC will help us to keep emerging contaminant issues such as these on the scientific and political agendas within the region, as well as helping us better address challenges that currently face the sciences of ecotoxicology and environmental chemistry. The merger will also open up opportunities for members in Australasia to participate and volunteer for SETAC global activities in ecotoxicology and environmental chemistry.
The ASE has been regionally active and taken a strong interest in developing the expertise of developing nations in the region. Recent workshops in Papua New Guinea and India have led to the exchange of knowledge and the further development of expertise in risk assessment in these countries. We expect that such initiatives will continue and develop under the SETAC umbrella.
The merger with SETAC to form SETAC Australasia has the additional benefit of drawing in and providing a “home” to environmental chemists to a larger SETAC society that represents the region.
The inaugural conference of SETAC Australasia will be held in tropical Darwin 17-20 April 2011. Registration is still open! We would love to see you there and welcome you to our new SETAC unit. Visit the EnviroTox 2011 website.
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