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Media Release
Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell

7 October 2005

Tin Can Bay dolphin feeding should get another chance

The Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, has called on the Queensland State Labor Government to give the Tin Can Bay dolphins another chance.

The Queensland Government has sought a court injunction on two café owners at Tin Can Bay to stop tourists feeding and interacting with dolphins – a practice that has occurred for more than a decade.

Senator Campbell said he would write to Queensland Premier Peter Beattie, asking him to give the Tin Can Bay operators more time to come up with an acceptable proposal.

“I am sure that the tens of thousands of Australians who visit this spot near Fraser Island each year would be incredibly disappointed to learn that it was all coming to an end,” Senator Campbell said.

“We all agree that dolphins should be protected in their natural habitat – which is why the Australian and State governments have agreed to strengthen national whale and dolphin watching guidelines.”

The draft national guidelines, expected to be formally ratified at an upcoming Commonwealth/state ministerial meeting enhance the very strong protections currently in place, by providing that:

A person should not deliberately feed or attempt to feed a wild whale or dolphin. This includes throwing food or rubbish in the water in the vicinity of whales and dolphins, and feeding from boats.

Feeding is permitted only under programs authorised by the relevant Commonwealth, State or Territory agency. In these cases feeding programs must operate within the conditions of authorisation. There should be no further establishment or expansion of feeding programs.

All existing feeding programs should be accompanied by ongoing research to monitor whale and dolphin responses to help track any changes in animal behaviour that may have implications for animals or people. Senator Campbell said the draft guidelines do not ban existing dolphin feeding activities such as those at Tin Can Bay, as long as they adhere to very strict regulations.

“I am determined to see that dolphins continue to be afforded the highest level of protection we can offer, but this doesn't have to come at the expense of the many Australians who have a genuine affection for these creatures,” he said.

“It would be a shame if visitors were not able to experience the dolphins in Tin Can Bay in the future.

“The Queensland Government should defer its court injunction and consider how it can assist the Tin Can Bay operators to put in place a program that is consistent with Australia's world-leading standards of protection for dolphins.

Media Contacts:
Renae Stoikos (Minister Campbell) (02) 6277 7640 or 0418 568 434

Commonwealth of Australia