In the swim with whales

Caitlyn WattsPilbara News
People swimming with Humpback Whales in Exmouth.
Camera IconPeople swimming with Humpback Whales in Exmouth. Credit: Chris Jansen / Live Ningaloo

The Ningaloo community has been called to make comment as the World Heritage-listed coast is set to become the State’s first licensed swimming-with-humpback whales industry.

After a successful four-year trial, the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions was seeking comment on the draft management program for managing interactions with humpback whales along the Ningaloo Coast.

Developed by DBCA, in consultation with Gnulli joint management partners, commercial operators and scientists, the aim of the program was to ensure the ongoing protection and conservation of humpback whales.

The program focused on commercial in-water humpback whale interactions from Exmouth and Coral Bay and also considered recreational activities, whale watching and other operations in the region.

Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said protecting humpback whales was important for sustainable tourism.

“This trial has been monitored for the past few years and there have been no instances where the whales have been injured and we’ve got some strong policies in place that keep people safe distance away from them.

“This latest round of public consultation is to just get some further feedback from the community, and from those who’ve operated the trials, to see if there’s any further information they want us to consider before we actually change the policy.

“Now we are looking to establish a long-term licensed industry that ensures the whales are protected and appreciated while providing an exceptional and unique tourism experience.”

The licences will be managed by DBCA, which will advertise a competitive process to allocate licences for commercial in-water humpback interaction tours, starting from 2021.

Mr Dawson said establishing a long-term, viable industry would create jobs, offer additional experiences for visitors and boost the local and State economy.

Comments close on February 13.

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