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

21 April 2006

Australia, New Zealand team up to protect whales

Australia and New Zealand are working together on best practice whale rescue initiatives and are keen to share their expertise with the region, Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell said at a meeting today with New Zealand’s Minister for Conservation, Chris Carter.

The Ministers met today as Australian and New Zealand environment officials began bilateral discussions to exchange information and develop a collaborative program on a range of issues including whale and dolphin strandings, disentanglement strategies, whale watching guidelines, and whale research programmes.

“Australia and New Zealand have an excellent track record in collaborating on whale conservation and in working together to achieve results at an international level and at the International Whaling Commission,” Senator Campbell said.

“Today’s discussions allow us to build on our strong partnership, share information on whale and dolphin research and discuss ways in which we can use our knowledge and experience in a positive ways throughout the region.

“I am also pleased to have the opportunity to formally launch a range of initiatives that the Australian Government has put in place to protect whales and dolphins.

“Australia recently revised its National Guidelines for Whale and Dolphin Watching to set the benchmark for best practice and I'm sure these guidelines could be helpful to other countries in the region to assist with sustainable management of expanding whale watching industries.

“New satellite tagging techniques have also been developed by Australian researchers which will help rescue whales entangled in nets and marine debris.

The new satellite tagging equipment will help to track whales so a rescue operation can resume if unsafe conditions have made it difficult to free whales from entanglements.

These techniques and other rescue innovations will be shared with State Government agencies at a disentanglement workshop at Victor Harbor in South Australia from 2-3 May.

The Australian Government also has a broad range of information resources including a new National Sightings and Strandings Database.

“While still in its infancy, the database will become a central hub for information on strandings, sightings and whale distributions that will complement the other detailed databases in Australia and New Zealand,” Senator Campbell said.

A further workshop is planned for Auckland later this year.

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Media contact:
Renae Stoikos 02 6277 7640 or 0418 568 434

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