The Science Advisory Committee
As a society promoting and coordinating research for the conservation of marine mammals, we feel that it is important for the ECS to establish guidelines for researchers handling or interacting with their study species.
The principles of a policy encompass the philosophy of respecting our study animals by optimising and minimising the “use” of animals in research. This will involve balancing the costs (to the animal) against the benefits derived from any research activity and optimising the potential trade-off between the quality of data obtained and any harm done to a study animal to obtain useful results. Additionally, alternatives to animal use are encouraged wherever feasible. This philosophy is enshrined in the principles of Reduction, Refinement and Replacement (the promotion of any change from present procedures that will result in the replacement of animals, a reduction in the numbers used or a refinement of techniques that may reduce or replace animals or reduce the pain, stress or distress of the animals).
Laws exist in many countries to regulate the use of live animals in research. However, laws are very general and often set only minimum standards for care and welfare. Societies such as the ECS therefore should help to promote progress by improving in techniques to minimise impacts on animals. This can be facilitated through information exchange between members, and through guidance from an science advisory committee (SAC) formed by the Society.
Generally speaking, science advisory committees are advisory rather than proscriptive. They provide guidelines on best practice, but do not mandate standards, regulate activities or impose penalties. The Society can benefit from having an SAC in a number of ways:
Ultimately, as animal welfare considerations and technology both evolve, the role of the SAC should be to act as advisors (and protectors) of the Society's members.
The decision to create an European Cetacean Society Science Advisory Committee was taken after a workshop held in La Rochelle in 2005, during its 19th Conference. Its members are ECS senior scientists whose fields of expertise cover a great range of disciplines and includes also experts in animal welfare.
Any ECS member, as well as external individual or institution, may contact the Science Advisory Committee.
Science Advisory Committee
Alex Aguilar, Michel André (Chair), Gisela Badura-Lotter, Arne Bjorge, Ian L. Boyd, Greg Donovan, Peter G.H. Evans, Manuel Garcia Hartmann, Jonathan Gordon, Giuseppe Notarbartolo di Sciara, Laila Sadler (Secretary).