Labor calls for prosecutions to protect whales and humans - NSW Government must stop the boats

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The NSW Opposition has called on Environment Minister Robyn Parker to use existing legislation to protect both whales and humans from dangerous interactions.

Since the O’Farrell Government came to power no prosecutions have been launched for offences against whales under the National Parks and Wildlife Regulation 2009.

“People’s fascination with whales is understandable, but sometimes misguided and very dangerous,” said Shadow Minister for the Environment, Luke Foley.

“They are elegant and huge, friendly and intelligent and prone to putting on a bit of a show. But recently there have been a disturbing number of dangerous human interactions with whales.

“In July at Bondi a surfer was knocked unconscious by a southern right whale when trying to get a better look at the animal. Fortunately for him, his friends were nearby and ensured he did not drown.

“Not long after, a large group of swimmers in Manly swam with a mother and its calf, many of them taking the opportunity to touch the mother. Most likely they were simply unaware that swimmers are not allowed to approach within 30 metres of a cetacean, both for their own protection and so as not to cause stress to the whale.

“In August a bushwalker reported a group of six men in a speedboat harassing a pod of dolphins near North Head. Also that month, it was reported that surfers had shadowed a pair of southern right whales between Bondi and Tamarama, paddling within 10 metres of them.

“In October at Newcastle two jet skiers harassed a pod of humpback whales, including at least two calves, for half an hour. The jet skiers came to within a few metres of the whales. Speed boats and jet skis are not allowed to approach within 300 metres of whales, dolphins and porpoises.

“But despite all these dangerous interactions, no prosecutions have been launched.”

“It is a different story in South Australia though. In September, a man was convicted of moving his Jet ski within 300 metres of two southern right whales and was fined $2,000,” said Mr Foley.

In its 2012 determination that the southern right whale be listed as an endangered species, the New South Wales Scientific Committee found that:

The southern right whale is particularly susceptible to vehicle collision, as the species sits low in the water, is difficult to see and spends much time in areas with high commercial and recreational marine traffic.

“Former Labor environment Minister Bob Debus left this State with strong laws to protect and
conserve whales, dolphins and all our marine mammals. This Government needs to educate
the public about these laws and enforce them.

“When it comes to the business of protecting our whales and dolphins and protecting humans from their own folly, I have a simple message for Mr O'Farrell's Government: Stop the boats,” said Mr Foley.