Department of the Environment

About us | Contact us | Publications

Header imagesHeader imagesHeader images



Key departmental publications, e.g. annual reports, budget papers and program guidelines are available in our online archive.

Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time. It may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. Many archived documents may link to web pages that have moved or no longer exist, or may refer to other documents that are no longer available.

Cover of Conserving Whales and Dolphins in Australian Waters: National Research Partnership Workshop

Before you download

Some documents are available as PDF files. You will need a PDF reader to view PDF files.
List of PDF readers 

If you are unable to access a publication, please contact us to organise a suitable alternative format.

Conserving Whales and Dolphins in Australian Waters

Workshop report
National Research Partnerships Workshop, Ballina NSW
2 - 4 May 2004

PDF files

About this Report

A National Cetacean Research Partnerships Workshop was held in Ballina in northern New South Wales from 2-4 May, 2004. The workshop was sponsored by the Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage, and hosted by the Southern Cross University Whale Research Centre.

The aim of the workshop was to bring together organisations and individuals currently funding or carrying out cetacean research in Australian waters to discuss priorities for future research. 101 people attended the workshop, including government representatives, researchers, consultants, industry representatives and non-government organisations.

Key researchers were invited to present summaries of the current scientific understanding of cetacean biology, distribution, conservation status, interactions with humans in Australian waters, and to highlight gaps in knowledge. Examples of current collaborative research studies were also presented. Workshop sessions discussed the key threats to cetaceans in Australian waters, and identified whether these threats were at the individual animal, population or species level.

Whilst the workshop was not structured to reach agreement on the relative priority of threats to cetaceans, a common theme emerged suggesting that the greatest potential threat to cetaceans was broad scale ecosystem disruption caused by climate change, habitat degradation, and prey depletion. Activities such as whale and dolphin watching, noise from military/industrial activities, and interactions with fishing gear while causing interference at the individual animal level and potentially at the population level, were not thought to affect the majority of species' recovery or survival.

Several activities were identified as potentially impacting on cetacean species at the individual or population level - e.g. noise pollution, coastal development, vessel collisions, direct take of offshore small cetaceans, and tourism. It was thought that if these impacts were to become widespread, cumulative with other threats, or affect a threatened or genetically distinct population, these activities could also have impacts at the species level.

Priorities for future research included further developing knowledge about basic biology and distribution of the five listed threatened species, as well as investigating the population status and trends of the cetaceans found in Australian waters, with an immediate focus on the indo pacific humpback dolphin, the irrawaddy dolphin, and the sperm whale.

Natural Heritage Trust logo