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Jet skier fined 15k for harassing whales

13 Jun 2012

A jet skier has been fined $15,000 for harassing whales in Encounter Bay.

The Hallett Cove man was convicted by the Magistrates Court in Victor Harbor of taking a vessel closer than 300 metres to whales and riding his jet ski in a restricted area on July 13 last year, the Victor Harbor Times reported.

The event had been witnessed by a local who took photos of the jetskier.

After initially having to swerve to miss two whales the jetskier returned to get a closer look.

The whales, who seemed to be courting, were clearly disturbed by the intrusion, the witness said.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources who prosecuted the man, has reminded the public to give whales space following the first sighting this season.

“Whales may be disturbed by humans or vessels, such as boats, surfboards, jet skis or aircraft, and this can be stressful for the animal,” The department’s animal welfare manager Deb Kelly said.

“We want to ensure that whales return to our waters each year, so it is important that we provide them with a secure environment.”

“This means respecting their space and avoid getting too close to any whales that are present.”

Dr Kelly said if a person unexpectedly finds themself too close to a whale they should either cut their motor or move away from the whale.

Following are some of the ‘whale approach guidelines’ from the Marine Mammal Regulations 2010:

  •     Personal watercraft (such as jet skis) must keep a distance of 300 metres from any marine mammal.
  •     Boats must keep a distance of 100 metres from a whale.
  •     Boats must keep a distance of 50 metres from a marine mammal.
  •     Vessels within the Encounter Bay restricted area must not get within 300 metres of a whale.
  •     If a whale is showing signs of distress or has a calf, vessels must not get closer than 300 metres.

In May the first whale of the 2012 season was spotted the Head of Bight on the Eyre Peninsula.

For more information about whale watching go to: www.sawhalecentre.com

 

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