BHP Billiton will meet with the Centre for Whale Research tomorrow after concerns Ningaloo research into migrating humpback whales had come to an end.
Centre managing director Curt Jenner said BHP originally told CWR they would fund the whale research, which costs $100,000 a year, as long as the resource company had a facility in the area.
It signed a three-year contract which funded the research up to last year’s migration, though Mr Jenner said he had been unsuccessful securing further funding from the minerals and oil-and-gas giant.
BHP Australia and Asia government and external affairs manager Meath Hammond said the company had a long association with CWR.
“We recognise the importance of this type of research, and are currently looking at a new research proposal which will examine the migration pathways and critical habitats of humpback and blue whales in Western Australia, he said.
Mr Hammond said it was hoped a decision would be made on this in coming months. However, with this year’s research due to start imminently, Mr Jenner said the long-running data on population would be broken due to the lack of funding this year.
After the Northern Guardian contacted BHP Billiton, Mr Jenner confirmed Mr Hammond contacted him and the two parties would meet this week.
Mr Jenner believed confusion may have arisen over which year’s migrations were being funded so BHP may not have realised there was no funding for 2012 migration records.
The humpback population migrating between Antarctica and the Kimberley is the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere, with Ningaloo providing a migration bottleneck.
The population has grown 10 to 12 per cent per year in recovery from 20th century whaling.
Mr Jenner said CWR researchers were the only people currently monitoring the WA humpback population – some 35,000 whales.BRAMWEN SMITH
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