Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

The Hon Tony Burke MP

Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

Operation CETUS to protect migrating whales

Media release
23 May 2011

The Gillard Government, in partnership with state and territory agencies, will launch an operation to protect migrating whales from disturbance this migration season.

Environment Minister Tony Burke said the Australasian Environmental Law Enforcement and Regulators neTwork (AELERT) would this week begin Operation CETUS to enforce whale approach limits

The team, comprising conservation and environment officers from Australian federal and state agencies will monitor boating activities, overflying aircraft and people in the water interacting with whales.

"We know that each year migrating whales provide Australians and visitors to our nation with a unique opportunity to observe these majestic animals," Mr Burke said.

"But there is a balance between watching whales and getting in their way.

"It is vital that whales are able to migrate, whether over great distances or in localised areas and that's why people need to observe whale watching limits.

"Complying with whale approach limits will ensure that the safety of the whales is protected and also contribute to their successful migration."

Australian conservation and environment agencies developed national whale watching guidelines in 2005 to better manage interactions with whales while providing people with an opportunity for a unique experience.

The guidelines aim to minimize the impacts of whale and dolphin watching on individuals and populations of whales and dolphins to ensure that people know how to act appropriately when watching whales and dolphins.

To report any suspected offences contact your state conservation and environment department. AELERT is a network of environmental enforcement agencies from all levels of government in Australia and New Zealand who work together on environmental law enforcement and regulation to protect our environment.

For more information regarding whale approach limits off your coastline contact your state conservation and environment department.

For information on AELERT visit and for specific information relating to Operation CETUS contact the federal environment department on 02 6275 9880.