The Australian Antarctic Program Animal Ethics Committee (AAPAEC) comprises of one person in each of the four categories recommended in the NHMRC Australian code for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes (the Code) and is chaired by the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) Chief Scientist.
The four categories include a person with substantial recent experience in animal experimentation, a veterinarian, a person with a demonstrable commitment to, and established experience in, furthering the welfare of animals, and an independent member of the wider community. Secretariat support is provided by the AAD.
The AAPAEC’s terms of reference is to:
- ensure adherence to the Code is maintained and that the AAPAEC and researchers are familiar with its contents and abide by its requirements
- ensure that the use of animals is justified, provides for the welfare of those animals and incorporates the principles of Replacement, Reduction and Refinement
- encourage the development of safer and less stressful techniques and procedures to be used with Antarctic species
- develop and maintain a set of guidelines in respect of animal experimentation and welfare in Antarctica including the consideration, where feasible, of alternatives to the use of live animals in experimentation
- examine research proposals relevant to the use of animals in experiments which are supported by Australia’s Antarctic Program* either directly or in kind, and approve only those experiments which conform to the requirements of these guidelines, taking into consideration ethical aspects as well as scientific or educational merit
- maintain a register of approved experimental proposals, including a description of techniques and the names of those using animals for experimental purposes
- ensure that all experimenters maintain adequate records of animal usage, and
- ensure that the requirements of all Commonwealth, State and Territory legislation are met.
* The AAPAEC does not examine animal research proposals undertaken on Macquarie Island unless the chief investigator is an AAD employee.