Following a successful 2011 campaign the Australasian Environmental Law Enforcement and Regulators neTwork (AELERT) will be coordinating Operation CETUS 2012 throughout the whale migration season (May - December).
Operation CETUS will see environmental law enforcement officers from the Australian Government, the state governments and New Zealand join forces to conduct joint patrols. These ocean patrols will educate the community, monitor boating activities, low flying aircraft and enforce environmental laws.
Whales, especially when on the move with new calves can become very distressed. Vessels that crowd around, noise and downward thrust from aircrafts and close human interactions may disturb the whales and cause them to become defensive.
Whale approach laws exist to ensure the safety of both the whales and the public. We must ensure whales have the space they need to complete a successful and safe migration.
Whale approach guidelines
The laws are outlined in the whale approach guidelines which specify minimum distances that vessels and aircrafts must maintain when approaching a whale or when travelling through migration areas.
The whale approach laws apply to any vessel or person on the water and any aircraft with a low flight path over the ocean.
These vessels and aircrafts include but are not limited to:
- tour boats, including all sectors: whale watching, diving, fishing etc
- recreational boats, including weekend boaters and tinnies
- surf boats, including the wooden row boats and inflatable rubber ducks
- personal watercrafts, including jet skis, underwater scooters and parasails
- commercial vessels, including cargo, transport and naval ships
- aircrafts with a low flight path over the ocean, and
- helicopters, including gyrocopters.
The laws vary between coastal areas so make sure you're familiar with the laws specific to your local area. Whale approach laws are enforceable in both Commonwealth and State waters.
Along with a physical presence on our oceans Operation CETUS aims to raise awareness of the whale approach limits working with industry and community groups. Key stakeholders include tourist operators, recreational fishers, surf clubs, commercial operators and chartered aviation.
At the end of Operation CETUS (expected to be December 2012) the results will be collated and evaluated to inform how best to balance economic, social and conservation factors for whales and dolphins in Australia. The report from Operation CETUS 2011 is available online.
- Australia's research priorities for cetaceans
- The Australian Government Marine Mammal Conservation Initiative
- Non-lethal research techniques for studying whales
- Whale protection
- The role of science in the International Whaling Commission
Stranded or entangled whales
Report a stranding or entangled whale to your State Environment Department
- RESCUE HOTLINES
- Report a stranding or entanglement