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Media Release
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell

30 November 2004

Government to establish national whale strandings database

The Australian Government will fund the establishment of a national whale strandings database to help find the reasons for mass strandings of marine mammals, the Australian Minister for the Environment, Senator Ian Campbell, announced today.

"We are not sure why these tragedies happen, but it's important that we coordinate existing scientific work to establish the reasons why these creatures become stranded," he said.

"There is a wide body of research work underway throughout Australia, however there is a need to take it to another level with a strong, well-resourced national approach.

"Strandings are fairly frequent along the coasts of Tasmania and in Bass Strait at this time of year and in New Zealand, but unfortunately we do not know why it happens.

"I have asked my department to develop in consultation with specialist marine scientists, a national database for whale strandings to support finding the answers that so far have eluded everyone."

He said the Government had invested more than $3 million in research studies of marine mammals, including assessment work on a national strandings network.

"Researchers, NGOs and government agencies have agreed to assess the benefits of such a network and I expect a report from the Department of Environment and Heritage next month."

The network's role would be to:

Support and enhance research through building capacity, training, resources and collaborative projects.Senator Campbell said the mass strandings of pilot whales and bottlenose dolphins on King and Maria Islands were distressing.

"I congratulate the Tasmanian community and volunteers for their quick, caring response," he said.

Commonwealth of Australia