BOAT users, jet-skiers and surfers are reminded to keep clear of whales as they enter south-west waters on their annual migration from Antarctica.
The oceans off Portland, Port Fairy and Warrnambool are visited each year by whales, with Logans Beach a well-known nursery for southern right whales.
Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) spokesman Andrew Pritchard said the department was monitoring a southern right whale mother and calf in the Portland Bay area.
“Victorians are very fortunate to have the beautiful creatures right on our doorstep, but we need to be aware of the laws in place to protect them,” he said.
“Boats are required by law to observe caution zones and stay at least 200 metres away from whales.”
Mr Pritchard said jet-skis must be kept 300 metres away, while swimmers and surfers needed to stay 50 metres away.
He said people accidentally caught in the caution zone needed to ensure their vessels avoided sudden changes in direction and maintained a constant low speed while not approaching whales from directly in front or behind, avoiding the whale’s known path and not come between a mother and her calf.
Anyone who interferes with a whale in Victorian waters can be prosecuted under the Wildlife Act 1975 for an indictable offence and faces a maximum penalty of $144,000.
The DEPI whale and dolphin emergency hotline is 1300 136 017.
For more information visit www.depi.vic.gov.au