WITH the whale migration season reaching its peak, the National Parks and Wildlife Service has issued a reminder to boaties about legal approach distances.

Richmond River area manager Mark Pittavino said marine mammal approach distances were designated to ensure whales were safe, while enabling boaties to continue to enjoy watching them.

“Consideration is needed when approaching whales in boats or any other craft. This is especially important in the case of adults with calves, which may be either resting or suckling.

“Research has shown that whales can be highly sensitive to engine noises.”

For a vessel, the approach distance is 100m from a whale. When calves are in the pod, the approach distance increases to 300m. One complaint had already been made about a boat harassing a whale and calf. This was a particularly serious situation due to the sensitivity of new-born calves to disturbance. An infringement may incur a penalty of up to $5500 for the operator of the vessel.

Reports can be made to the area manager at Alstonville on 6627 0200, Byron Bay on 6620 9300 or Cape Byron Marine Park on 6620 9305. For further information on marine mammal approach regulations visit: www.environment.nsw.gov.au