Minister to open Pacific whale, dolphin workshop
25 September 2006
Conservation Minister to open Pacific-wide whale and dolphin training workshop
Minister of Conservation, Hon. Chris Carter will present on Tuesday the opening address at a two-week workshop training Pacific Islands participants in the basic elements of whale research and cetacean strandings.
People from Kiribati, Tuvalu, Cook Islands, Samoa, Niue, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, the Marshall Islands and Tonga will be taking part in the sessions designed to give practical experience in dealing with whale and dolphin monitoring, live and dead strandings, sampling techniques and stranding databases.
Oceania, more than any other region, is a marine realm and the large migratory marine species – whales, dolphins, turtles and sharks – have always had a central place in the culture of Pacific peoples, to the extent that the migrations of these animals mirror the traditional oceanic voyages of the people of the region.
Department of Conservation marine mammal expert and adviser to New Zealand’s delegation to the International Whaling Commission Mike Donoghue says it is time to find new ways of working together to safeguard the Pacific’s marine environments.
“The single most important contribution NZ can make is to provide training and technical support so that Pacific Islands nations can develop their own skills and take on their own research programmes. This workshop marks an important step forward in the regional Whale and Dolphin Action Plan which South Pacific countries and territories approved a few years ago.
“We’re looking at ways we can help over-exploited species, like the great whales, recover, strengthen the protection of these species and increase people’s knowledge and understanding of the role they play in their marine ecosystems. We’re also encouraging Pacific nations to develop sustainable, non-lethal ways of capitalising on these animals through ecotourism.”
The Department of Conservation and South Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) are jointly running the workshop.
Dr Bill Perrin, one of the world’s most renowned cetacean biologists, is a stalwart campaigner for small cetaceans (dolphins and porpoises) whose problems are sometimes overshadowed by the threats to large whales.
Professor Scott Baker of Auckland and Oregon State Universities is an expert in the genetics of cetaceans and is renowned for his molecular genetics surveys of cetacean products available in Japanese markets.
Dr Mark Orams, Massey University, is an expert in evaluating the economic benefit of whalewatching in the Pacific region.
Dr Cara Miller, Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, is a specialist on the distribution of cetaceans in the Pacific Islands region.