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Media Release
Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell

28 October 2005

Strengthened whale and dolphin watching guidelines agreed


Whales and dolphins will receive greater protection through the revised Australian National Guidelines for Whale and Dolphin Watching, which have been formally agreed by the Australian and State and Territory Environment Ministers.

Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, said the revised guidelines were the result of months of consultation with a wide range of groups.

“It is a great privilege to be able to see whales and dolphins in their natural environment and Australia is one of the best places in the world to do this. However, we also have a responsibility to ensure we do this in a way that best ensures their protection,” Senator Campbell said.

“The Australian Government has worked closely with state and territory governments, non-government organisations and the whale and dolphin watching industry to review the national guidelines to ensure Australia remains at the forefront of whale and dolphin conservation.

“These guidelines set the framework for national standards that help to inform people about how to act if they come across whales and dolphins in the wild so that no harm comes to either the animals or the watchers,” he said.

One of the most commonly seen whales in Australian waters is the humpback whale. Since commercial whaling ended in Australian waters humpback populations have increased by about 10 per cent each year which means that whale watchers are increasingly likely to see these animals during their migration season.

“It is heartening to know our whale populations are growing as a result of the ban on whaling and other protection measures we have in place,” Senator Campbell said.

“As the populations increase, people on the water are more likely to encounter whales so it is even more important that we know how to behave near these huge but vulnerable animals.”

Whales and dolphins may be disturbed by the presence of people, whether they are on the land, in a boat or aircraft, or involved in activities such as swimming and diving, feeding, touching, and making noise. The potential problems from disturbance may include disruption of behaviour, displacement from important habitat areas, and reduced breeding success.

The guidelines signed off today will put in place national regulations for safe and proper interaction with whales and dolphins. They apply in all Australian waters and cover all whale and dolphin watching activities, including both commercial operators and the general public.

Further information is available at www.deh.gov.au/whales

Media Contact:
Renae Stoikos 02 6277 7640 or 0418 568 434

Commonwealth of Australia