By law, animal research must not be carried out in Tasmania unless it is
by a licensed institution [section 27(1) of the Act]. Institutions can only be
licensed if, amongst other things, they have an AEC, which is constituted in
accordance with the Code. Institutions that do not have their own AEC
may consider accessing an external AEC or sharing with another institution. The NRE Tas Animal Research web page provides information on animal research licences.
NRE Tas has established an AEC which is constituted in accordance with the Code. NRE Tas is also licensed to carry out animal research.
Before a licensed institution engages in animal research, the research must first be approved by an AEC. Only those projects for which animal use is essential and justified and which conform to the principles of the Code can be approved.
According to the Code (Section 2.3):
The primary responsibility of an AEC is to ensure, on behalf of the institution for which it acts, that all activities relating to the care and use of animals are conducted in compliance with the Code. The AEC must review applications for projects and approve only those projects that are ethically acceptable and conform to the requirements of the Code.
In practical terms, this means the role of the AEC is to:
Define the legitimate purposes for which animals may be used;
Decide how to exercise control over allowable levels of pain and stress in animals used for research;
Monitor and inspect or delegate inspection of facilities, project activities and records;
Uphold the practice of humane standards of animal husbandry, use and care;
Actively encourage the principles of the Code;
Ensure effective public accountability; and
Maintain an accurate register of approved projects and investigators.
The NRE Tas AEC considers project proposals that involve animal research from within the Department, and for a number of approved external institutions whose research with animals has been assessed as having a significant public benefit. Project proposals that come before the NRE Tas AEC comprise mostly conservation research, research with a significant public benefit, and research required to support environmental assessments.