Australia’s role as global whale defender under threat from the Treasury’s budget cuts

Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Sydney, Australia

IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare) has welcomed a letter released today by 66 leading Australian and international marine mammal scientists calling on the Abbott Government to continue funding marine mammal research to ensure that Australia remains at the forefront of marine protection and conversation.

In an open letter, the scientists argue that government-funded research has been fundamental in the battle against “scientific” whaling by Japan, demonstrating non-lethal alternatives for whale research.  The scientists state ongoing funding will be “critical in maintaining Australia’s status as a global leader in whale conservation and Antarctic science”. 

Commenting on the letter, Matthew Collis, Marine Campaigns Manager at IFAW, said: “The message from these scientists is clear – this research funding has been essential in demonstrating that we don’t need to slaughter whales to study them.

“This research funding is not just crucial for stopping Japanese whaling in Antarctica, but is vital here in Australia too. For years now, Australian government grants have supported research on whales, dolphins, seals and sea lions and dugong in Australian waters, helping to establish our scientists as world leaders in marine mammal conservation.

“Prime Minister Abbott has shown his unwillingness to talk about whaling with his Japanese counterpart. Let’s hope he and Treasurer, Joe Hockey, are willing to listen to the voice of Australia and the world’s experts and continue to provide funding that supports scientists to address key knowledge gaps and advance our understanding of marine mammal populations, and the nature and extent of the threats they face.”

Previous Australian governments have seen the value of investing in marine studies, with over $30 million invested in the previous six years. However, all marine mammal research grants have been placed under review since the election and this support is now under threat as the new Government looks to cut spending.

“The continuation of this grants program is essential to inform conservation efforts in Australia and protect nationally and regionally important species.  Not only is the protection and conservation of whales at risk, but Australia’s standing as a global marine leader will be under threat if this Government does not continue to support it’s marine scientists.  As Japan continues to slaughter whales in the name of science, the Abbott government must not slaughter marine mammal science in the name of austerity,” said Mr Collis.

The NGO and scientific community is sending a clear message to Mr Abbott, Mr Hockey and Mr Hunt, that we need renewed investment in our marine research to better understand the creatures that live in our oceans.   If you want to tell Mr Hockey not to slash the marine mammal research budget, simply visit IFAW’s website and send him an email.

About IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare)
Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Note: A copy of the letter is available on request.

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