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Jet skiers told to steer clear of whales or risk injury and a fine

With the whale migration season in full swing, jet skiers and water users are being urged to follow the rules when it comes to approaching whales.

Minister for Environment Leeanne Enoch said it’s important that people on jet skis, paddle boards and boats play it safe around whales.

“With the school holidays starting, our coastal waters are expected to be busy with people enjoying Queensland’s mild winter conditions,” Ms Enoch said.

“Our waters will also be hosting thousands of 40-tonne humpback whales heading north on their annual migration.

“Too often I hear about risky behaviour by people, including reports from the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast this season with paddlers, riders and skippers being seen putting themselves in the path of whales.

“We need to show respect to these giants of the ocean and make sure that any interactions are safe and responsible.”

Department of Environment and Science (DES) Manager Southern Wildlife Frank Mills said if you witness somebody going too close to a whale please send the details to DES at

“The more information provided – such as photos and video – the better chance we have of taking compliance action if its warranted,” Mr Mills said.

“A Sunshine Coast woman was fined $630 for an offence in 2017 after she rode a jet ski within 300 metres of a whale. Members of the public alerted DES and sent us details that helped the investigation.

“The rules are there to protect our whales, and it’s also a matter of human safety. Put aside the ‘gentle giant’ tag – these are unpredictable animals. You don’t want a creature the size of a city bus crashing down on you or hitting you with its massive flippers or tail, often that are edged in sharp barnacles.”

Mr Mills said DES staff had been out at boat ramps in recent weeks, talking to water users about whale season safety and handing out ‘share the water’ stickers.

Jet skis and other personal watercrafts are not permitted within 300 metres of whales at any time. The penalty for intentionally moving too close to a whale is an on-the-spot fine of $630.75, or a maximum fine of $20,814.

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