A fisherman has been fined $431 after being caught on camera feeding wild dolphins during a fishing trip in Queensland.
The Department of Environmental Sciences (DES) was alerted to an online video showing a man feeding wild dolphins at Tin Can Bay in the state’s Wide Bay region.
Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) officials reviewed the video and saw several adult dolphins and a calf approaching the boat.
Senior Wildlife Officer Tina Ball said, “Several times we’re shown a man cutting the mullet into pieces and feeding it to one of the adult dolphins.”
“During the investigation, the man admitted to hand-feeding wild dolphins at Snapper Creek, and the brothers documented the exchange.
“Both brothers told the wildlife officer that they knew people could pay to feed dolphins at Tin Can Bay at Barnacles Cafe, so they didn’t believe feeding dolphins in the wild was a crime. I said I didn’t know.
“The barnacle café’s feeding activities are subject to stringent requirements, including the types and quantities of fish that can be fed to the dolphins and how long the fish can be frozen to ensure freshness.
“This is a regulated activity overseen by authorities to ensure that the dolphins do not receive their daily feeding at the Barnacle Café and continue to forage for fish in the wild.”
The maximum Queensland fine for feeding wild dolphins is $11,500.
Ball said skippers need to respect dolphins when interacting with them in the wild.
“People in boats and swimming in the water also need to give the dolphins space and at least 50 meters away if the dolphins are in the water,” she said.
“Captains must not approach within 150 meters in front of or behind a pod of dolphins, or 50 m when approaching from the side of the pod.
“If a dolphin approaches the boat within these distances, the skipper must either disengage gear or withdraw from the area at a speed of less than 6 knots.”
Ball urged people not to feed marine mammals. This is because feeding fish that is not fresh or that is not part of their natural diet, such as pilchards, can cause health problems.
“There are other risks that people have to be aware of, such as dolphins associating boats and people with free food,” she said.
“This puts them at risk of being hit by boats or entangled in fishing gear when wild dolphins start approaching boats in search of food.
“Hand-feeding wild dolphins can also interfere with their natural hunting behavior and the natural behavior of their pods.
“Be careful not to touch or feed marine mammals unless they are part of an approved dolphin feeding program.”
https://thewest.com.au/news/queensland-parks-and-wildlife-service-fines-fisherman-for-feeding-dolphin-c-10335818 Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service to fine fishermen for feeding dolphins