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A new James Cook University (JCU) marine science scholar will gain a unique opportunity to engage with the port industry across the Great Barrier Reef, thanks to a ground-breaking environment partnership.

Amy Cantrill has received the first Bachelor of Science scholarship from the $5 million North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation (NQBP) and JCU partnership which has a leading role to help safeguard the Great Barrier Reef.

Miss Cantrill will study science relevant to applied management in the port industry.

NQBP is the only port authority in the world with three priority ports, of Hay Point, Mackay and Abbot Point, located on the shores of a World Heritage Area.

Associate Professor Michael Rasheed from JCU’s Centre for Tropical Water and Aquatic Ecosystem Research (TropWATER) is co-director of the project.

“JCU is committed to having job ready graduates in marine science and it’s exciting to have students engaging with industry and receiving financial support to get their studies and future career off the ground,” Professor Rasheed says.

“Bringing world leading environmental science to tackle real marine industry issues is an exciting space for students to engage and our partnership with NQBP provides a unique opportunity for this.”

Miss Cantrill says she was looking forward to commencing her new academic journey.

“I feel privileged to be the recipient of this scholarship,and am extremely grateful to the JCU and NQBP partnership for providing me with such exciting opportunities,” says Miss Cantrill.

NQBP CEO Nicolas Fertin said the port authority was immensely proud to see the evolution of the partnership.

“Providing university students real-world experience in port environmental management – and on the doorstep to the Great Barrier Reef – is like nothing else offered in Australia.”

The scholarship is part of NQBP’s broader five-year research partnership with JCU, announced in September 2020.

A separate internship program has provided JCU Marine Science Students, Florence Sefton, Taleatha Pell and Ingrid Naschwitz with “on the job” experience alongside NQBP’s environment team already this year.

To help future students, JCU Marine Science Masters graduate Alicia Castle, herself a 2020 intern, is working with the partnership to evolve this program.

“The legacy of our partnership builds on a long-term relationship between the two organisations, spanning more than 25 years,” Mr Fertin said.

“Together we have created one of Australia’s most comprehensive port marine ambient monitoring programs and now we’re seeing an exciting evolution of the impact we can make to help the best marine science students become job ready.”

Image: Dr Nathan Waltham and Amy Cantrill.