The Marine Conservation Program (MCP) is responsible for monitoring and conservation of marine mammals and seabirds in Tasmania.
Many marine mammals in Tasmania are slowly recovering from past exploitation at the hands of the sealing and whaling industries. Recovery of these iconic species is hindered by a range of present-day anthropogenic threats, such as fisheries interactions, competition for resources and ocean pollution, while new impacts, such as climate change, are continually emerging. Ongoing monitoring of seal and cetacean (whale and dolphin) populations and their habitat use in Tasmania is essential for the effective conservation and management of these species.
Our program is focused around three key themes:
1. Incident response
2. Conservation through knowledge
3. Increasing public awareness and engagement
The rescue and release of stranded or entangled marine mammals is a priority for the MCP.
A large proportion of Australia's cetacean (whales and dolphins)
strandings occur in Tasmania and the MCP responds to these events statewide. The rescue of live animals is a priority and early reporting via the whale Hotline is vital. The program also collects as much information as possible from deceased individuals to better understand the patterns and processes behind stranding events.
Where possible, the Program also responds to entangled marine mammals.
Entanglement in marine debris is an increasing threat to whales and seals, and is usually fatal without intervention. The MCP provides specialist equipment, training and expertise to intervene safely and effectively in these events around Tasmania.
Conservation through knowledge
Monitoring the population trends, habitat use and behavior of marine mammals and seabirds in Tasmania enables us to identify factors that influence their abundance and survival now and into the future, and where possible, develop effective methods to improve their conservation status.
Working collaboratively with experts from government agencies and research institutions across Australia and overseas, the MCP's long-term monitoring of threatened and recovering species informs and facilitates key national recovery actions. Marine mammal sightings and other information reported to the MCP by the community through the hotline and social media is often essential for the success of our research and conservation programs.
Increasing public awareness and engagement
One of the unique aspects of living in Tasmania is the opportunity to regularly observe marine mammals and seabirds in their natural environment, particularly as populations recover from past exploitation. Engagement with the public is critical to the success of the program, and the MCP aims to help Tasmanians to understand and value marine mammals and seabirds and actively participate in their conservation and protection.