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Minister for the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts 2001-2004

The Hon Dr David Kemp, MP



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Media Release
Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp

26 May 2004

New report highlights benefits of the whale watching industry

Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, today welcomed a report that found whale watching is a profitable and sustainable industry with many benefits for Australia.

Dr Kemp welcomed the new report, From Whalers to Whale Watchers - the growth of whale watching tourism in Australia, launched by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).

"Whales are fascinating creatures and much of their lives are still a mystery. Where they go, how they find their way, and how they communicate is all still largely unknown. People are in awe of these magnificent marine mammals," he said.

"Australia is fortunate to have many whale watching sites along its coastlines and a growing whale watching industry which promotes Australia's efforts to protect whales and their environment for future generations.

"I congratulate IFAW for this comprehensive report which documents the continuing growth in whale watching in Australia and its many benefits.

"Whale watching enterprises have grown from 42 boats, taking 140,000 tourists whale watching in 1993 to 290 boats carrying more than 1.6 million tourists last year.

"The direct economic benefits of whale watching in Australia add up to almost $30 million per year, while the indirect economic benefits are close to $300 million. This is a 15 per cent increase over the past five years, compared to the average international tourism market growth of 2.76 per cent.

"But as well as economic benefits, whale watching also helps raise awareness and appreciation of whales and their habitat, and highlights the importance of protecting our oceans.

"The Australian Government is dedicated to protecting whales and is leading international efforts to end all commercial and so-called 'scientific' whaling. In 2002 the Australian Government successfully listed six great whale species under the Convention for Migratory Species.

"The Government has also dramatically improved protection for whales through the declaration of the Australian Whale Sanctuary, which covers more than 10.8 million square kilometres, under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act 1999. The Act also prohibits Australian citizens from killing, capturing or interfering with whales anywhere in the world," Dr Kemp said.

Protection of whales was further strengthened last year when the Australian Government moved to combat the effects of harmful marine debris, which will also be addressed under the EPBC legislation.

A copy of the report can be accessed by visiting:

Commonwealth of Australia