Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

The Hon Tony Burke MP

Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

Blue whale samples approved for legitimate scientific research

Media release
29 May 2012

Environment Minister Tony Burke has approved Flinders University to import six samples of blue whale tissue for genetic research to improve conservation of the species.

The import includes five samples of skin tissue collected in 2004 from live whales using non-lethal techniques and one tissue sample taken in 2009 from a beached whale.

"The samples for this import were collected using entirely non-lethal methods and will add to the scientific understanding of these magnificent creatures," Mr Burke said.

"Blue whales are under threat of extinction and improved scientific knowledge will help in the conservation and recovery of the species.

"This import is consistent with the international conventions that are so important in protecting species like the Blue Whale.

"These non-lethal methods are the right way to research the magnificent blue whale.

"They are the opposite of Japan's so-called scientific whaling where the alleged research project begins with a harpoon."

The collection of the samples was authorised by the Sultanate of Oman, Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs.