Legislation

Notification of interactions with cetaceans

If you are a person who undertakes an activity that results in the unintentional death, injury, trading, taking, keeping, moving, harassment, chasing, herding, tagging, marking or branding a cetacean in or beyond the Australian Whale Sanctuary, or you are a person who undertakes an activity that results in the unintentional dividing, cutting up or extraction of any product from a legally killed, injured or taken cetacean, and your activity was not authorised by a permit, then you must notify the Secretary of the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts within seven days of becoming aware of the results of your activity.

Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999

Australian Whale Sanctuary

Under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) all cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) are protected in Australian waters:

  • the Australian Whale Sanctuary includes all Commonwealth waters from the 3 nautical mile state waters limit out to the boundary of the Exclusive Economic Zone (i.e. out to 200 nautical miles and further in some places)
  • within the Sanctuary it is an offence to kill, injure or interfere with a cetacean. Severe penalties apply to anyone convicted of such offences
  • all states and territories also protect whales and dolphins within their waters
  • More about the Australian Whale Sanctuary

Environment assessments

In all Australian waters, including state and territory waters, the EPBC Act regulates actions that will have, or are likely to have, a significant impact on all listed threatened and migratory species.

Proposed actions that may have a significant impact on any of these species should be referred to the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts who will decide whether the action requires environmental assessment.

Threatened whale species

Five whale species are currently listed as nationally threatened under the EPBC Act:

  1. blue whale (endangered)
  2. southern right whale (endangered)
  3. sei whale (vulnerable)
  4. fin whale (vulnerable)
  5. humpback whale (vulnerable)

The recovery plans identify whaling and habitat degradation as key threats to whales, and establish objectives and actions to ensure the ongoing recovery of these species. The recovery plans for these five species will reviewed in 2010.

Recovery plans

Listed migratory species of cetaceans