Swimming with whales experience to continue in Hervey Bay
AN OPPORTUNITY to swim in the ocean with whales is just one of the many reasons why people come to Hervey Bay to whale-watch.
Despite a number of tourism operators already offering the swimming with whales experience, up until now the intimate experience was running on a trial-basis.
The government had concerns that the activity was dangerous.
But Minister for National Parks Minister Steven Miles said the activity has now been approved and could continue running.
"While it's an activity with some risks, no incidents occurred during the trial," Mr Miles said.
"Swimming with whales is proving a very popular product, in the range of Hervey Bay's many attractions, and I'm delighted to know it can continue."
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, who touched-down in Hervey Bay on Sunday, said she would like to see our town become a world whale reserve.
"That is something my Government is prepared to have a much closer look at," Ms Palaszczuk said.
"Whale watching has become a growth industry, we have some 30,000 whales that come into Hervey Bay, and that number continues to increase."
Of the 11 boats currently operating in the Fraser Coast whale watching fleet, six are licenced to offer the "swimming with whales" experience.
The industry's strict code of practice ensures the giant mammals' welfare and conservation are paramount, and any encounters must be solely on the whales' terms.
In Queensland, boats or swimmers can approach within a 100 metre radius of a whale or dolphin... however curious whales may approach swimmers and often do.
In the swimming with the whales experience, participants are in the water holding on to a boom net, duckboard or a mermaid line. Mr Miles warns this is a regulated and professionally run activity, with penalties in place for those who do the wrong thing.
"Don't attempt swimming with these giants of the deep on your own," he said.
"You risk injury, and a $630.75 on-the-spot fine or maximum $15,138 penalty for approaching whales too closely."