New dolphin feeding ban

Tayla and Peta Comelli say they would miss dolphin feeding at Tin Can Bay if a ban goes ahead.
Tayla and Peta Comelli say they would miss dolphin feeding at Tin Can Bay if a ban goes ahead. Renee Pilcher

BRISBANE-based environmental bureaucracies are using the Christmas-New Year period in an attempt to stamp out one of the Cooloola Coast's most loved tourist institutions - dolphin feeding at Tin Can Bay.

In a new assault on the Bay's most famous and unique attraction - enjoyed and supported by thousands of people from all over the world each year - the Department of Environment and Resource Management and its agency, the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, seem to be attempting again what they failed to achieve in 2005 - a total ban on one of the world's most charming wild-life experiences.

Such a ban would effectively get the dolphins out of the way for a controversial government-backed marina, planned at the site.

A previous attempt to outlaw dolphin feeding culminated in a stand-off, with hundreds of visitors defying government enforcers.

It also led to an illegal QPWS raid on Barnacles Cafe at Norman Point, where the feeding was based.

Former Premier Peter Beattie stepped in to block further action against feeding, but this reprieve did not survive the change-over to the Bligh-led government.

Concerned people have until January 9 to make submissions to the review by a department which states there are "no advantages" in retaining dolphin feeding.

The Queensland Government's Christmas review of dolphin feeding could wipe out much of Tin Can Bay's tourism and fishing economy, residents said yesterday.

Fishing industry environmental adviser Joe McLeod described the government's Marine Mammal Legislative Review as "sneaky" with regard to its impact on commercial fishing.

He said a ban on dolphin feeding would conflict in many instances with other laws requiring fishers to dump by-catch overboard as soon as possible after netting.

"You can have 20 to 40 dolphins trailing a trawler while it's working," he said. "They like interacting with humans and they have for thousands of years.

"A Butchulla elder told me that their people worked with dolphins, which would drive fish into their nets, in return for a share of the catch."

Barnacles' owner Les Dunstan said there would be no trawlers in the bay if they had to avoid the estuarine dolphins that live there.

More information can be obtained from the DERM website.

Topics:  animals cooloola coast derm dolphins queensland government tin can bay

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