Scientific endeavour recognised

18 December 2009

A scientist who has spent many years defining the legal limits of Australia's marine jurisdiction and representing Australia on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) has been honoured by his old alumni.

Dr Phil Symonds © Geoscience Australia

Dr Phil Symonds
© Geoscience Australia

Phil Symonds, senior advisor on Science and Law of the Sea with Geoscience Australia, has received an Honorary Doctor of Science (DSc) degree from the University of Tasmania, almost 40 years after he graduated from the institution with a Bachelor of Science (Hons) in geology/geophysics.

Having been awarded an Honorary DSc recently from the University of Sydney, he becomes one of only a handful of scientists to be awarded two such distinctions.

As part of a team in Geoscience Australia, Dr Symonds lead the preparation of the technical case supporting the definition of the outer limit of Australia's extended Continental Shelf which led to the CLCS confirming the outer limit of Australia's continental shelf to give it jurisdiction over an additional 2.5 million square kilometres beyond 200 nautical miles from its territorial sea baseline.

The award also recognises his ongoing assistance to smaller island nations in the Pacific region in the preparation of their submissions.

The Chief Executive Officer of Geoscience Australia, Dr Neil Williams said the contribution Dr Symonds has made to exploring, understanding and managing Australia's maritime jurisdiction during his 40 years with Geoscience Australia and its predecessors has been invaluable.

"He has played a significant role in achieving a significant social and economic benefit for all Australians and continues to provide a valuable contribution through his membership on the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf," he said.

"He is a mentor, teacher and example to scientists in Australia and throughout the world and his role as visiting professor to the Faculty of Law at the University of Wollongong will ensure he provides a valuable legacy for the future understanding of Australia's role in the international law of the sea," Dr Williams said.

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