Saturday, October 01, 2005

Defiant tourists continue to feed dolphins

TOURISTS have continued to feed dolphins at a bay in southeast Queensland despite the threat of large fines because of a banon the practice by the state government. Tin Can Bay local cafe owner Steve Walker said about 70 tourists fed the wild Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins this morning with food supplied by his cafe, risking fines of up to $1,125 each.

Queensland Environment Minister Desley Boyle said this week that the feeding of the dolphins near the Tin Can Bay's Norman Point boat ramp would stop because it was illegal and potentially harmful to the mammals.

Mr Walker, who owns Barnacles Bait and Cafe, said the bans would affect the community north of Gympie "financially and spiritually".

"In a little town like Tin Can Bay, it's a small town, we have one main source of tourism in Tin Can Bay, that's the dolphins," he said.

"The minister has given us no lee-way, she has just shut it down.

"One barrister has offered to help us for free, and I have no doubt this is heading to the High Court."

Ms Boyle said the feeding posed a great risk of boat injuries and illness to wild dolphins.
"We care about these rare and beautiful animals and it is not in their best interests to be fed," she said.

"These are wild dolphins, not like the domesticated dolphins ? that are dependant on humans for food.
"This is no joke, we are dead-set serious. We will use legal powers to stop the feeding if it necessary."

She said the agreement on dolphin feeding with Barnacles Bait and Cafe's former owners came to an end in March this year and it had been signed on the basis that the feeding would be phased out.

Quick "Facts about Dolphins"