Whale watching laws change in southern Qld
Posted Fri May 10, 2013 8:56am AEST
Queensland Environment Minister Andrew Powell says new whale watching laws reduce restrictions on commercial operators in the state’s south-east.
The State Government has amended legislation by lifting bans on commercial whale watching in waters off the Sunshine and Gold coasts.
Mr Powell says under previous legislation, whale watching tours could not stop their boats inshore to view the animals.
“They will now be able to access state waters,” he said.
“In the past, they could steam along out to Commonwealth waters and view whales at any stage, but could not stop and view incidental whales that they might stumble upon in state waters.
“Now they can do that and that offers an opportunity for them to be able to explain the whales’ migration and not have to explain to the tourists why they can’t stop.”
However, Australian Whale Conservation Society (AWCS) spokesman Paul Hodda says the new regulations threaten efforts to protect the animals.
“Essentially in most places along the coast anybody with a little boat and a book of raffle tickets can go out commercial whale watching,” he said.
“Not only will it be difficult to monitor, the Government won’t even know where the hot spots are and where it’s developing,”
Hervey Bay tourism operators say the changes will devastate the local industry, although local operators will still require permits because they operate in a marine park area.
Blue Dolphin Tours spokesman Peter Lynch says more operators will leave the industry on the Fraser Coast because permits are expensive.
“It’s virtually wiped out over $1.8 million worth of assets to the operators of Hervey Bay,” he said.
“We all have our commercial activity agreement – some are worth [more] than $100,000 for permit purchases in the past.
“So there’s over $1.8 million taken off the assets value of these local Hervey Bay operators by this act of the Government.”