The Newman Government has announced new legislation for whale watching and the protection of Queensland's marine mammals.
Whale watching off the Gold Coast Qld
Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection Andrew Powell said the changes re-enforced the government's commitment to slashing red tape and simplifying regulations by lifting the ban on commercial whale watching in State waters off the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast.
'This is a common sense move which ends the absurdity of commercial operators having to travel out to Commonwealth waters before they can stop and look at whales,' Mr Powell said.
'Instead of having to ignore any whales they encounter on the way, these operators will now be able to pause and let their customers enjoy the experience as they head out to their main whale watching destinations in Commonwealth waters.
'While Hervey Bay will remain as Queensland's premier whale watching destination, this new legislation will improve the experience for whale watching enthusiasts on the Sunshine and Gold Coasts.'
'The Newman government has also committed an additional $200,000 for the development and promotion of the Hervey Bay whale watch industry,' he said.
Boat skippers will continue to operate under standard approach limits, with boats allowed within 100 metres of whales and 300 metres if there are four or more vessels. Jetskis and watercraft will also be limited to 300 metres.
'This legislation brings standard approach limits in line with national guidelines,' he said.
Mr Powell said the State Government had also simplified the declaration process for special interest dolphins and whales.
'Whales such as 'Migaloo' the albino humpback always attract a lot attention. Instead of having to declare him 'special interest' each and every whale season, he and others like him will be declared on an on-going basis.'
Full details of the approach limits and the other changes to the legislation affecting marine mammals can be viewed on the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection website at www.ehp.qld.gov.au.