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    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability
    The Honourable Kate Jones

    BOATIES WARNED – IT’S WHALE SEASON

    Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability
    The Honourable Kate Jones

    Monday, June 08, 2009

    BOATIES WARNED – IT’S WHALE SEASON

    Boaties need to be extra alert and cautious for the next six months as huge humpback whales start to migrate along Queensland’s coast.

    Climate Change and Sustainability Minister Kate Jones said while the annual whale migration was an awesome sight, some weighed more than a fully loaded semi-trailer and should be given a wide berth.

    “Last year, some boats crowded around whales on the Gold Coast and skippers put themselves, their passengers and the whales at risk,” Ms Jones said.

    “A number of boaties were given warnings last whale season and our marine rangers intend on ramping up their monitoring efforts this year.

    “A couple of years ago a Gold Coast man found himself in court after his trimaran collided with a whale in the Whitsunday passage.

    “So boaties are warned: ‘keep your distance or you could be fined’.”

    The following regulations apply to protect all whales during their migration:

    ·boats cannot go any closer than 100 metres from a whale;

    ·in the whale protection zone of the Whitsunday, Lindeman and Gloucester island groups, no boat can go closer than 300 metres;

    ·boats cannot go any closer than 300 metres to a whale if three or more boats are already closer than 300 metres to a whale;

    ·boats cannot go any closer than 300 metres if moving in a similar direction to or behind a whale, moving at more than four knots; and

    ·swimmers should exercise caution and move carefully away if a whale approaches or surfaces near them.

    Ms Jones said the rules applied for all boats in State and Commonwealth waters.

    “Penalties apply for breaching these regulations without reasonable excuse,” she said.

    “The safest place for inexperienced people to observe migrating whales is from commercial whale-watching vessels or from dry land.”

    The maximum penalty for intentionally moving closer to a whale than permitted under the conservation plan is $12,000.

    On-the-spot fines ranging from $300 to $500 may also apply for various contraventions of the conservation plan.

    “Please play it safe around these huge mammals. Give them some room and give them respect — they’ve been visiting our waters for thousands of years,” Ms Jones said.

    “Remember, the ocean is there for all of us to share, and it is big enough for whales – and whale watchers – to have all the room they need.

    “The number of humpbacks on our east coast increases by about 10 per cent each year.

    “This year, we’re predicting at least 10,000 and possibly more than 12,000 whales will travel past our coast.

    “The increase is good news for our coastal tourism, but it also means more whale encounters and possibly greater risk if we’re not on our guard.”

    Information about whales and regulations for whale-watching can be viewed at www.derm.qld.gov.au.

    Humpbacks start leaving Antarctica in early autumn. The first are already travelling in Queensland waters and number starting increasing at the beginning of June. The whales head up to the Whitsundays and further north to give birth and mate. They head south again from about August through to November.

    8 June,  2009

    MEDIA CONTACT: Joshua Cooney 3336 8004 or 0409 069 056