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Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage
The Hon Dr David Kemp, MP
5 April 2002
The Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, together with Mr Greg Hunt, Federal Member for Flinders, today formally opened the new home of the Dolphin Research Institute at the Western Port Marina in Hastings.
"As an island continent, Australia depends upon the health of the world's oceans," Dr Kemp said.
"For the past 11 years, the Dolphin Research Institute has demonstrated that dolphins are key indicator species for our understanding of the state of the oceans and are living barometers of our treatment of the sea.
"The Federal Government has supported the important work of the Dolphin Research Institute with over $20,000 of funding since 1998," Dr Kemp said.
The Dolphin Research Institute relocated to Hastings after its researchers, volunteers and staff outgrew their premises in Frankston. Now the Hastings community will host the Institute's expanding research and educational role in relation to the dolphin populations of both Port Phillip and Western Port Bays.
"It is significant that this new focus point for research on dolphins has a much broader title - it is a Marine Conservation Centre," said Dr Kemp.
"It is very encouraging that the Institute continues to emphasise to the people of Victoria and indeed all Australians, that we cannot view dolphins in isolation.
"The well-being of dolphins cannot be divorced from the wider marine ecosystem. Those of us who treasure and seek to protect these intelligent, inquisitive and unique species that grace our bays and oceans must treasure the entire marine environment which is their home," Dr Kemp said.
The Dolphin Research Institute has grown from a small, dedicated group of enthusiasts into a leading research facility in a decade, thanks to the generosity of volunteers, donors and sponsors. A recent achievement was the Institute's role in negotiating more rigorous standards for dolphin watching, in Victoria's new Sustainable Dolphin Tourism Program for Port Phillip Bay.
"This Centre is an example of what can be achieved by communities who care enough about their environment to do something about understanding and protecting it better. This is what the Natural Heritage Trust is all about. In this case, the Trust's Coast Action / Coast Care program is providing support to help the new Centre develop educational displays about dolphins and their environment," Dr Kemp said.
Dr Kemp said the Australian Government would continue to promote increased protection for dolphins in Australian waters. The Government would also promote increased protection for dolphins and whales at the next International Whaling Commission meeting to be held in Shimonoseki, Japan.
Catherine Job (02) 6277 7640 or 0408 648 400