Inquiry into The Use of Exotic Animals in Circuses and Exhibition of Cetaceans in New South Wales supports Sea Sanctuary on Coffs Coast

Supplied: Concept drawing for Sea Sanctuary at Coffs Harbour.


THE establishment of a sea sanctuary at Coffs Harbour came a step closer last week after the Parliamentary Inquiry into The Use of Exotic Animals in Circuses and Exhibition of Cetaceans in New South Wales released its recommendations.

At issue is the long-term welfare of the three dolphins held at Dolphin Marine Conservation Park.

As they were born in captivity and couldn’t survive in the wild they can’t be released.

The youngest is aged eleven and the expected lifespan for the dolphins is 50 to 60 years.

Terry Goodall, Managing Director of Dolphin Marine Conservation Park (the Park), said he is pleased with the recommendations, which include restrictions on breeding dolphins in captivity; that the Government contribute financially towards the completion of a feasibility study into a proposed sea sanctuary at Coffs Harbour; and that financial support be provided for the ongoing marine rescue and rehabilitation work conducted by the Park.

Dolphin Marine Conservation Park, Action for Dolphins and World Animal Protection have been working in partnership on a feasibility study for the sanctuary, looking at Corambirra Point at Coffs Harbour and Nambucca as options.

Terry told the Inquiry Committee that while the Park funds its own operations from ticket sales, and the fundraising efforts of Action for Dolphins and World Animal Protection Australia have financed the feasibility study so far, completion of the study could cost a further $250,000 and constructing the sanctuary $10 to $15 million.

Terry told News Of The Area that there’s a long way to go, including several further steps in the Parliamentary process and also consultation with the many other groups who use the harbour for fishing, boating and leisure.

“We would only go ahead with the proposal if the feasibility study shows that a sea sanctuary would provide better welfare outcomes for the dolphins than the Park can,” he said.

“The biggest question people ask is, why all this for just three dolphins – but it’s much more than that.

“Should the sea sanctuary go ahead we could incorporate a learning centre to support the significant work we already do in education, plus a half-way house arrangement for the rehabilitation of marine animals.

“It would provide a boost to the local economy and bring extra tourism into the area, as well as providing additional scope for our conservation work.”

Terry said, “Nambucca has been identified as the only other possibility geographically, and so is part of the feasibility study, though it’s too early for any discussions to have taken place as yet.

“The feasibility study also includes assessing wave data, acoustic testing because of the dolphins’ hearing, water quality testing, architectural design and identifying stakeholders.”

Terry said, “I believe Dolphin Marine Conservation Park and our resident dolphins, Jet, Bella and Zipper achieved a win from this Inquiry.

“Now, we need to see the recommendations accepted.”

The final report is expected to be tabled in Parliament next year on 31 July.




Supplied: Marine carer Sarah inspects Jet the dolphin for a routine health check.


Supplied: Concept drawing for Sea Sanctuary at Coffs Harbour 2.

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