The Ocean Elders

Graeme Kelleher

Graeme Kelleher, AO was born in Australia in 1933 and was trained as a Civil Engineer. Graeme’s early career was in the structural design and construction of major civil engineering projects in Australia and Canada. He then moved into water and soils management in Australia’s Federal Government, before becoming a Commissioner on a study into the nuclear fuel cycle for the Government. The Commission determined aboriginal land ownership and defined the Kakadu National Park. He then advised the Government regarding the international proliferation of nuclear weapons.

In 1979 he became the first Chairman and CEO of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), positions he held for 16 years. He worked with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and became the first Vice Chairman, Marine of its World Commission on Protected Areas. He still works with those organisations and acts as a Senior Advisor to some of their departments.
He has designed systems of marine protected areas (MPAs) in several countries and is at present a member of the Scientific Council for MPAs in West Africa (RAMPAO).

Other positions he has held include Professor of Systems Engineering at James Cook University in Queensland, Australia, project manager for various Marine Protected Area projects in various countries, and Co-Chairman of the Life Sciences Panel of the $650 million p.a. Australian Cooperative Research Centre program to encourage applied research. He was one of the three members of the Independent Community Engagement Panel which reported to the Australian Ministerial Council on the future management of Australia’s largest river system- the Murray-Darling. He has been on the Organizing Committee of the international program Religion, Science, and the Environment for many years.

He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Science and Engineering (ATSE), of the Environment Institute of Australia and New Zealand (EIANZ) and of the Institution of Engineers, Australia (IEAust). He has received many honors and awards, including Officer of the Order of Australia, Fred M Packard International Parks Merit Award, the Centenary Medal and investiture into the Hall of Fame, Institution of Engineers, Australia.

He has authored and edited several major books, including “Guidelines for Marine Protected Areas” for IUCN and “A Global Representative System of Marine Protected Areas” for the World Bank, IUCN, and GBRMPA and has had many papers formally published and/or presented at conferences on natural resource management and engineering.

He is married, with 3 adult children and 6 grandchildren and he has one heck of an Australian sense of humour.