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    Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
    The Honourable John McVeigh

    Volunteers have a whale of a time

    Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
    The Honourable John McVeigh

    Wednesday, December 05, 2012

    Volunteers have a whale of a time

    As volunteers worldwide are celebrated as part of International Volunteer Day, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry John McVeigh said thanks to a very special group of volunteers who are helping our giants of the sea.

    Mr McVeigh said the Whale Observer Volunteers are part of a Queensland initiative to reduce risks to whales during their migration season from May to November each year.

    “There are 15 volunteers on the Gold Coast and 8 volunteers on the Sunshine Coast who are trained to spot possible whale entanglements in shark or fishing gear,” Mr McVeigh said.

    “The volunteers live in high-rise apartments, which place them at ideal vantage points for early detection so Marine Animal Release Teams can quickly be deployed to help.

    “Each season Fisheries Queensland provides specialised training and binoculars to the volunteers so they can identify whether a whale is entangled or not.

    “The volunteers learn how to judge the length of the animal, their behaviour and their distance from the equipment.

    “The assistance these volunteers provide saves Fisheries Queensland a lot of time and resources by confirming or raising the alarm of an entanglement.

    “The volunteers’ love for whales and commitment to providing their free time towards a priority service for our marine species is deeply appreciated.”

    Mr McVeigh said the combined efforts of the Whale Observer Volunteers, Fisheries Queensland’s Marine Animal Release Teams and reports from the public ensured a successful whale migration this year.

    “This migration season there were only three whales caught in shark control gear in Queensland and they were all successfully released,” he said.

    “There were approximately 16,000 whales migrating along Queensland’s coast, with the numbers growing each year, so this low number of entanglements shows the whale alarms on the nets are also working.”

    Anyone interested in becoming a Whale Observer Volunteer can contact 13 25 23.

    Anyone who spots a whale or other marine animal tangled in shark control equipment should call the 24-hour Shark Hotline on 1800 806 891.

    Follow Fisheries Queensland on Facebook and Twitter (@FisheriesQld).

    [ENDS] 5 November 2012

    Media contact: Louise Gillis 0408 709 160