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

21 February 2006

Whale research - identifying the priorites


Quality research is the key to the future for our whales and dolphins, the Australian Government Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, said today.

Welcoming leading whale researchers, government officials and marine industry representatives to a conference on research priorities for whales and dolphins in Adelaide today, Senator Campbell said it was crucial that we filled in the gaps in our knowledge of these creatures.

"As whales continue to be slaughtered in the name of ‘science', it is more important than ever that we discuss priorities for non-lethal research," Senator Campbell said.

"It is also vital that we continue to build our research base, particularly as countries such as Iceland and Japan continue to justify their whaling activities using flawed scientific arguments.

"Whales and dolphins fascinate us. People have been inspired by the sights and sounds of whales for centuries, yet we still know little about them. We need to better understand whale populations, their migratory pathways and important habitat areas if we are to protect them effectively.

"The Government is particularly interested to hear from experts on the impacts and risks from interactions between humans and whales and dolphins during activities such as fishing, oil and gas exploration and whale watching. This information will contribute to regulation of these activities, ensuring minimum disturbance to whales and dolphins and their habitats.

"Projects are also underway to develop better ways to help stranded or entangled whales and dolphins."

Senator Campbell said the two day conference - which runs today and tomorrow - was part of the Australian Government's commitment to bringing interested parties together to address real issues and ensure that our research dollars were wisely invested.

"I'm extremely hopeful that it will help us design and implement research projects that will really make a difference to our understanding of these magnificent creatures," he said.

Since 1996, the Australian Government has invested more than $3 million in research to promote whale conservation. The Australian Government is funding research projects to discover more about whale populations, migratory pathways and important habitat areas. Much of this work is being conducted with other Australian Government departments, State and Territory governments, industry bodies, universities and conservation groups.

Australia uses only non-lethal research methods and believes these should be used in all circumstances.

Further information is available at www.deh.gov.au/whales

Media Contact:
Marianne McCabe 02 6277 7640 or 0400 389 580

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