Threat to hump­back swim trips

Pilbara News - - Front Page - Louise Alling­ham

Ex­mouth’s hump­back whale swims may be in jeop­ardy.

Since the be­gin­ning of the trial, the De­part­ment of Bio­di­ver­sity, Con­ser­va­tion and At­trac­tions pro­hib­ited hump­back whale tour op­er­a­tors from ap­proach­ing pods with a calf.

The DBCA said the 2016 con­di­tions de­fined a calf as a whale half the length of its mother.

“While this def­i­ni­tion was based on best avail­able knowl­edge at the time, it re­sulted in some in­ter­ac­tions oc­cur­ring with groups of whales that had calves that were larger than half the length of adult whales, thus go­ing against the in­tent of the li­cence con­di­tion to ex­clude in­ter­ac­tions with calves,” the DBCA said.

Af­ter re­cent re­search, a calf has been re­de­fined as any whale twothirds the length of its mother.

The Pil­bara News un­der­stands the change will re­duce the num­ber of pods peo­ple can swim with so dra­mat­i­cally it will no longer be eco­nom­i­cally vi­able for op­er­a­tors to con­tinue to of­fer the swims af­ter the trial is fin­ished.

“Whale shark tour op­er­a­tors were con­sulted re­gard­ing pro­posed changes to the li­cence con­di­tions for the 2017 trial sea­son, and other changes made were in direct re­sponse to those op­er­a­tors’ feed­back,” the DBCA said.

“As the in-wa­ter in­ter­ac­tion with hump­back whales is a trial, any im­pact of the changed li­cence con­di­tions will be as­sessed at the end of the 2017 sea­son.”

Op­er­a­tors have been call­ing for changes to give them a bet­ter chance of suc­cess­ful whale in­ter­ac­tions for months.

In Jan­uary, Nin­ga­loo Dis­cov­ery owner Matt Oak­ley said op­er­a­tors would like to see changes, such as a trial of swim­ming with moth­ers and calves.

“It’s done in other parts of the world with­out any in­ci­dent to my knowl­edge,” he said.

North West Cen­tral MLA Vince Cata­nia said red tape was killing these tour op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.