Capacity building in Papua New Guinea

Spinner dolphins in waters near Madang, Papua New Guinea.
Spinner dolphins in waters near Madang, Papua New Guinea. (Photo: Cribb/WDCS)

Field surveys around the islands, atolls and coral reefs of Papua New Guinea will provide some of the first baseline information about cetaceans in the region, while building the country’s capacity for cetacean research and conservation.

Dr Cara Miller of the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society International said the project would develop in-country capacity in terms of conducting research, developing appropriate management strategies and providing background information on cetaceans and their habitats.

‘Activities will include information and awareness sessions, discussion and planning, and conducting whale and dolphin surveys in surrounding waters,’ she said.

The project takes a three-pronged approach to cetacean conservation and management: the development of practical field research skills for a core group of in-country participants; the progression of a national management plan for cetaceans; and the roll-out of other education and awareness initiatives.

‘My hope is that this project actively assists our in-country participants to effectively implement national and regional cetacean conservation initiatives and plans,’ Dr Miller said.

‘It will improve their capacity to design and undertake cetacean surveys and prepare them to engage in issues that have relevance and linkages to cetaceans and their habitats within the country’s exclusive economic zone.’

The surveys will be the first to be conducted in Manus province, Papua New Guinea’s smallest province, which has a vast sea area rich with marine life and coral reefs. The Papua New Guinea government is particularly interested in surveying this area as it works towards establishing a comprehensive picture of national biodiversity.

JILL BROWN

Corporate Communications, Australian Antarctic Division