14K Cartoon image of toxic materials

© Auckland Regional Council

Protect the Sea

Key ideas about Ocean Pollution

Investigating Ocean Pollution

Toxic Algal Blooms and Poisonous Oysters

The Fragile and Important Sea Surface

Sea Keeper Profile: Fergus Power

Marine Environment Protection Division, Maritime Safety Authority of New Zealand

I've always enjoyed swimming and sailing. I was fascinated by the adventures of Jacques Cousteau on television and soon learned to SCUBA dive so I could see the underwater world for myself. When I got to University, I took courses in marine biology and ecology. I discovered a constantly growing world of exciting things to learn about.

One of the most important discoveries was that our seas were being polluted. I was upset by the idea of pollution harming the ocean and decided to work full time on environmental protection.

With two degrees from University, I began work in Taranaki. This was during the "Think Big" phase of New Zealand's economy when the country was rapidly building its industrial capability and gas and oil exploration was in full swing.

I moved to take a job with Environment Bay of Plenty and became the manager for all scientific studies on underground waters, lakes and rivers and the coastline. From there I moved to Wellington to take up my present position as Divisional Manager of the Marine Environment Protection Division of the Maritime Safety Authority. The Maritime Safety Authority looks after the safety of ships that travel to and from New Zealand. It also works with Regional Councils, ship owners and industry to prevent pollution of the sea and clean-up of oil spills or other dangerous chemicals.

Working with a major national agency means spending most of my time in meetings, traveling, doing reports, and working on my computer. All too little time out enjoying the underwater world. But I have learned, over the years, how important it is to deal with environmental issues on all levels; globally, nationally, and locally.

The pollution of the sea is not just a matter of local interest - it moves from one place to another. No matter how well we do our job in keeping New Zealand's ocean clean, we need the participation of all nations in preventing pollution from ships. The Maritime Safety Authority represents the Government of New Zealand at the United Nations International Maritime Organization (IMO). I am the leader of the New Zealand Delegation to the Marine Environment Protection Committee of the IMO. This committee is responsible for controls on ocean pollution on a world-wide scale. The Committee publishes guidelines on how to reduce the likelihood of marine pollution, how to deal with it effectively, and setting international standards to keep the oceans as safe and clean as possible.

In New Zealand, I work towards the same goals on a national level, especially in prevention of spills of harmful chemicals - like oil - from ships. The Maritime Safety Authority also has to be sure there are enough trained people and equipment ready in the event of a major oil spill.