Activities regarded as scientific purposes for the use of animals

Scientific purposes are activities performed to acquire, develop or demonstrate knowledge or techniques in any scientific discipline including:

  • teaching
  • field trials
  • environmental studies
  • research
  • diagnosis
  • product testing
  • production of biological products.

Scientific purposes also include using any animal, or the remains of an animal that was killed, for any of the above purposes. Anyone using animals for scientific purposes must be registered with Biosecurity Queensland and obtain approval from an animal ethics committee (AEC).

In this situation, 'use' generally means to cause or permit to be used.

This includes to:

  • acquire or purchase an animal
  • accommodate, provide for, or care for an animal
  • breed with an animal
  • identify the animal (e.g. microchip, ear tag, brand)
  • dispose of an animal
  • drive, load ride, transport or work an animal.

In Queensland, an animal should be considered to be 'used' if the animal might reasonably be assumed to have perceived the use and be aware of a change from what might otherwise have occurred.

For example, whale watching from the coast line is not considered 'use' of the whale, as the whale is not reasonably assumed to be aware of the observer. However, whale watching from a boat is considered 'use' of the whale, as the whale might reasonably be assumed to be aware of the presence of the boat that would not otherwise have been there.

If you intend to use animals for scientific purposes there are things you must do to ensure and demonstrate support for the wellbeing of the animals and comply with the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 (ACPA).

The use of animals for scientific purposes is governed by the principles and ethical framework outlined in the Australian code for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes, known as the scientific use code (refer to section 1 of the scientific use code).

Activities not regarded as scientific purposes

The following activities are not regarded as being for scientific purposes:

  • fish tagging
  • bird banding
  • diagnosis by a veterinarian within routine veterinary practice, or biosecurity inspectors undertaking a disease response.

AEC approval is not required for the routine production of food or fibre, for routine husbandry procedures (e.g. clipping coats and nails, vaccinations) and for inspectorial staff undertaking routine regulatory activities. AEC approval is also not required for the training and application of agricultural extension work practices and students in veterinary science, veterinary nursing and veterinary technology, provided all conditions outlined in clause 4.17 of the Australian code for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes apply (known as the scientific use code).

If you are unsure whether a certain animal use requires ethics approval then you should contact Biosecurity Queensland or the chairperson of an AEC for advice.

Before you use an animal in Queensland

You (or the institution where you are employed or study) must register as a person using animals for scientific purposes with Biosecurity Queensland. Registration is valid for 3 years.

You must also submit a written application for your proposed animal use to an AEC, and have written AEC approval before acquiring the animals or beginning the activity. You will need a separate approval for each different activity or project.

Find out more about how to apply for approval with an AEC to use animals for scientific purposes.

While you are using an animal for an AEC approved use

You must comply with any requirements made by the AEC that approved your animal use and the requirements of the code.

You must also report on your animal use to your AEC and Biosecurity Queensland. Your AEC will provide details of the information they require. Biosecurity Queensland requires registrants provide an annual report called the Annual Animal Use Statistics Report. Your AEC can either submit this report on your behalf, or registrants can submit it directly to Biosecurity Queensland. Contact your AEC to find out the correct procedure.

After you have completed your animal use

You must submit a completion report to your AEC. Contact your AEC about the completion report.

Tests that are unlawful in Queensland

Under the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 (ACPA), certain tests are unlawful. These include:

  • skin and eye irritancy tests (e.g. the Draize test)
  • Lethal Dose 50 (LD50) or similar test
  • testing cosmetic or sunscreen products using animals

However, a registered person must apply to the Director-General of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) to conduct one of the above tests.

Find out more about how to apply and your legal obligations related to animal testing in Queensland.

Requirements for animal use in other Australian states and territories

If you wish to carry out scientific animal use in another Australian state or territory, you will need to comply with the relevant legislation in the other jurisdiction. The New South Wales Department of Primary Industries Animal Ethics Infolink provides details of requirements in Australia's other states and territories.

Requirements of other agencies and organisations

Depending on the details of your scientific or educational activity, you may be subject to other requirements. Any additional requirements will be determined by the other agency or organisation, including but not limited to:

  • funding bodies - use of their dollars (e.g. National Health and Medical Research Council)
  • environment departments - use of wildlife
  • occupational health and safety
  • Genetic Modification Advisory Committee - use of gene technology
  • Australian Government - use of imported or controlled biologicals
  • Queensland Health - use of scheduled drugs, chemicals and poisons.