Collision with cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) is a growing concern. Ship strikes can increase the risk of death and injury to animals, and damage property.
Humpback whales are present in the Great Barrier Reef region from May to September.
Under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, all cetaceans are protected in Australian Commonwealth waters (generally between 3 and 200 nautical miles from the coastline). The legislation applies to all vessels.
If a vessel collides with a cetacean in Australia’s Commonwealth waters, the person in charge of the vessel is required by law to notify the Department of the Environment.
Ship masters and watch-keeping officers are urged to:
- maintain a good look out
- warn other vessels in the vicinity if whales have been sighted, using all appropriate means of communication
- consider reducing vessel speed in areas where whales have been sighted
- consider modest course alterations away from sightings.
The marine notice about ship strikes is 2016/15.
You might find the IMO's guidance document for minimising the risk of ship strikes with cetaceans (PDF 147.96 KB) useful.