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7 July 2006

Win for whales at Whaling Commission

Australia and the pro-conservation coalition won an important fight in the battle to protect whales at the International Whaling Commission meeting in June.

Speaking at the 58th International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting held in St Kitts and Nevis in the Caribbean last month, the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell said that Australia and its pro-conservation coalition had won a great victory for whale conservation, defeating plans by whaling nations to take control of the IWC and move closer to a return to commercial whaling.

Australia and its pro-conservation coalition won all the substantive proposals at the meeting, defeating pro-whaling efforts to:

Furthermore, the resolution condemning so-called 'scientific' whaling Australia put forward at last year's IWC meeting was successfully defended.

"The votes we have won at this meeting are a significant achievement for whales and whale protection," Senator Campbell said.

"There was always a real possibility that the IWC could fall into the hands of the whalers for the first time since the moratorium came into effect 20 years ago - but we once again stopped this from happening," he said.

Minke whale. Image courtesy of Matt Curnock.

Minke whale. Image courtesy of Matt Curnock.

However, Senator Campbell warned the IWC remains finely balanced between those who want to resume industrial whaling and those who want to protect whales and he said this year's meeting was no different.

"This year we have kept the balance in favour of whale protection, however, the passage of a non-binding declaration by pro-whaling nations at today's meeting, though toothless, is a wake-up call to the world," Senator Campbell said.

"This declaration by the pro-whaling nations is non-binding, proposes no action and will have no effect.

"It is simply a toothless statement of frustration at the pro-conservation coalition's continuing success.

"I am obviously thrilled that our hard work over the past years has paid off but there is still more work to do to ensure that the kind of whaling that is taking place by countries like Japan, Iceland and Norway is not a part of our future.

"I have long said that whale protection is not a sprint - it is a marathon.

"We need to strengthen our resolve and vigour and we need more effort, more organisation and more resources to underpin our commitment to permanent global whale protection.

"Australia and the pro-conservation coalition will not give up the fight," he said.

The voting record for the IWC meeting, country by country, is available at www.aad.gov.au/default.asp?casid=21435 or www.saveourwhales.gov.au

Victoria to be centre for marine biosecurity expertise

The northern pacific seastar, an introduced marine pest. Image courtesy of CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research

The northern pacific seastar, an introduced marine pest. Image courtesy of CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research

The Victorian campus of the Australian Maritime College will become an international centre of excellence in the war against biosecurity threats through new funding from the Australian Government.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Mr Greg Hunt, announced that the Government will support the establishment of an international consortium for education and research into marine biosecurity threats through a $200,000 Natural Heritage Trust project.

The funding will support the proposal by the Australian Maritime College's National Centre for Marine and Coastal Conservation at Point Nepean, which will develop courses for students and professionals in the prevention and management of introduced marine pests and pathogens.

"People from all over the Asia Pacific region will come to Victoria to develop expertise in the prevention and management of marine pests and pathogens,'' Mr Hunt said.

"Students and professionals will come to the campus through their links with the consortium of higher education institutions that feature marine biosecurity training."

The NHT contribution will bring total funding for the project to more than $550,000, with the balance being contributed by the College's Centre for Marine and Coastal Conservation and its consortium partners.

Minister for the Environment and Heritage Senator Ian Campbell said the establishment of the consortium was a strategic measure to assist Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) economies address the growing threat of marine biosecurity problems.

"By working with other higher education institutions throughout the Asia Pacific region we can develop the capacities of all countries to prevent potentially catastrophic marine environmental problems,'' Senator Campbell said.

"The most effective response is where nations work together in a strategic way to meet the marine environmental threats that spread through our oceans with no regard for political boundaries."

A workshop of confirmed and prospective consortium members was held in Victoria in mid-June.

Fish biology conference for Hobart

Yellowfin tuna. Photo courtesy AFMA

Yellowfin tuna. Photo courtesy AFMA

The 2006 ASFB Conference and workshop will be held in Hobart, Tasmania, from 28 August to 1 September 2006.

The 2006 workshop theme is Cutting Edge Technologies In Fish And Fisheries Science. The aim of the workshop is to demonstrate the application of new technologies and techniques in the study of aquatic systems. The workshop will be held on 28-29 August with the conference to run from 31 August to 1 September.

Examples of technologies and techniques include smart tags, acoustic tracking, hydro-acoustics, remote sensing, habitat classification, underwater visual systems, electronic data capture and genetic and microchemistry applications.

The Australian Society for Fish Biology was founded in 1971. The objectives of the Society are to promote research, education and management of fish and fisheries in Australia and to provide a forum for the exchange of information. Delegates can register online at http://www.cdesign.com.au/asfb2006/pages/registration.htm The Australian Society for Fish Biology Conference is sponsored by the Marine Division of the Department of the Environment and Heritage.

Fisheries experts meet to discuss 11-year reef fishing experiment

A commercial fisherman taking part in the Effects of Line Fishing Experiment. Photo courtesy of CRC Reef.

A commercial fisherman taking part in the Effects of Line Fishing Experiment. Photo courtesy of CRC Reef.

The latest research findings from a world-leading research project into reef line fishing were discussed at a forum in Townsville last month.

The Effects of Line Fishing (ELF) experiment conducted by the CRC Reef Research Centre was initiated by calls from managers for improved information on the sustainability of reef line fishing on the Great Barrier Reef.

The ELF Experiment was conducted over 11 years and across 1500km of the Great Barrier Reef making it the largest experiment of its kind in the world.

Dr Annabel Jones from James Cook University said the forum gave stakeholders the opportunity to hear about the latest research findings of the experiment from the researchers themselves and discuss how this information will influence future fisheries management decisions.

The experiment aimed to investigate the effects of different levels of fishing pressure on fish stocks and related ecosystems. This was achieved by temporarily opening and closing reefs to fishing over an 11-year period providing an insight to the effectiveness of various management strategies such as closing areas to fishing.

Dr Jones said that the information collected over the past 11 years had already proved of value in the development of two important plans of management for the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and the reef line fishery.

She said one finding of interest was that reefs closed to fishing can have more and larger coral trout and red throat emperor than those where fishing is allowed, at least in those areas where fishing pressure is greatest.

The Effects of Line Fishing Experiment was funded by CRC Reef Research Centre, the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

For more information about the ELF Experiment visit the CRC Reef website.

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