Australia and the Republic of Korea today signed a new agreement to promote scientific collaboration on non-lethal whale research.

The agreement, signed in Hobart by the Australian Antarctic Division and Korea’s National Institute of Fisheries Science, aims to promote non-lethal whale studies and improve methods to reduce the accidental capture of cetaceans by the fishing industry.

Leading research techniques, such as satellite tagging and genetic mark recapture, will improve estimates of abundance, trends, movements and dispersal patterns of marine mammals in Korean coastal waters.

The agreement has three key focus areas:

  • Operational interactions: developing methods to reduce cetacean bycatch and interaction between cetaceans and fishing operations.

  • Ecological interactions: assessing how cetaceans may affect fisheries yields and developing tools to improve the understanding of this complex issue.

  • Socio-economic opportunities: exploring the development of whale and dolphin watching operations, consistent with the International Whaling Commission’s Five-Year Strategic Plan for Whale Watching.

The new agreement will gather data on cetacean-fishery interactions, ecosystem modelling, sighting survey design and marine mammal tourism which will be fed into the Commission’s Scientific and Conservation Committees.