Bottlenose dolphin and baby

Image: Zassle | Creative Commons

Introduction

This fund supports research that focuses on the impact of tourist operations on cetaceans in the Hauraki Gulf.

A fund of $100,000 was allocated to eligible legal entities to undertake research on marine mammal of the order Cetacea (whale, dolphin, or porpoise). Research will focus on the impacts of tourism operations in the Hauraki Gulf.

The following funds have been awarded:

  • $65,000 to Associate Professors Rochelle Constantine and Craig Radford at the University of Auckland.
  • $30,000 to the University of Auckland, University of Victoria in Canada and Styles Group Underwater Acoustics in Auckland. This research is led by Dr Matt Pine.
  • $5800 to Dr Karen Stockin of Massey University for a review of marine mammal research in the gulf.

About the fund

There are currently two marine mammal tourism operators in the Hauraki Gulf: Auckland Whale & Dolphin Safari and Dolphin Planet.

Each operator holds a marine mammal permit which states they must contribute annually to support research into the impacts of their activity on cetaceans. A fund of approximately $100,000 was generated by these contributions and available for research projects to examine these impacts.

What research did the fund offer to support?

Funding of $10,000 to $100,000 was made available to projects of up to three years that could cover one of more of the following research areas:

  • Assessment of the two current commercial operators impact on cetaceans.
  • Current state and trends in populations of cetaceans including, but not limited to, bottlenose dolphins, brydes and minke whales.
  • Identifcation of critical habitats for cetaceans such as where they feed, breed and nurse young.
  • Recreational and commercial tourism pressures on cetaceans.
  • Impact of marine mammal viewing of commercial operators ranks alongside wider pressures.
  • Measurement of recreational and commercial tourism's significance on cetacean’s well-being.
  • Consideration of matauranga (Maori values) in the context of tourism impacts on cetaceans.

Research not supported:

  • cetacean disease
  • non-target species such as seals
  • other pressures such as habitat change or fishery interaction.

How were application assessed?

Applications were assessed on how well their proposal aligned with the fund's scope and assessment criteria, as well as on merit when compared to other applications. Applications were assessed on:

  • how reasonable and realistic the budget is
  • a clear and robust methodology
  • demonstration of ability including:
    • Evidence of past project delivery
    • research team credentials
    • knowledge of the subject matter.
  • collaboration with partners or agencies.
  • level of co-funding (there is no requirement for existing funding, but where in place this should be outlined)
  • time frame including any time sensitivity
  • presentation
  • level of species threat
  • evidence of iwi engagement in research
  • evidence of robust health and safety processes
  • consideration of how outputs and results will be communicated with stakeholders
  • permits in place (where required).

How was the fund awarded?

Once the call for applications closed in April 2019, the assessment panel considered all submitted applications.

The panel completed their review by June 2019, and advised all applicants of their decision.

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