Whale research and conservation becomes cooperative

The Australian Marine Mammal Centre (formerly the Australian Centre for Applied Marine Mammal Science), based at the Australian Antarctic Division, received a $1 million funding boost for 2008–09.

The new funding includes about $600 000 to supplement the existing marine mammal research fund and about $400 000 for activities in support of the Government’s policies, including work towards the establishment of the first International Whaling Commission (IWC) conservation management plan, and a Southern Ocean non-lethal whale research partnership.

Federal Environment Minister, Mr Peter Garrett, said the allocation of the extra funding would advance Australia’s science-based proposal to modernise the IWC.

The proposal, Whale Conservation and Management: A Future for the IWC, contains three main initiatives: internationally agreed, cooperative conservation plans for whales; collaborative research programs; and reforming the management of science, including an end to unilaterally granted special permits for scientific whaling.

Australia followed through with its conservation and management proposal at the 60th IWC meeting in Santiago, Chile, in June, when it signed an agreement with Chile to cooperate on whale research and other whale conservation activities. The agreement delivers on two of the key reform measures proposed by Australia — strategic research partnerships and internationally agreed conservation management plans.

The program of work that will ensue from the agreement includes regional research partnerships, a research exchange program, conservation management activities and building capacity in the area of regulatory environmental management.

Australia will also host a workshop in early 2009 to develop a research plan for the Southern Ocean research partnerships. The research exchange program will be managed by the Australian Marine Mammal Centre and will be linked to universities in both countries.

Corporate Communications, AAD

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