Sustainability high on whale pioneers' agenda
HERVEY Bay whale watching has set the standards for the rest of the world to follow, according to marine scientists Dr Wally and Trish Franklin.
The well-known researchers were keynote speakers during the World Whale Conference this week and spoke about the importance of Hervey Bay playing the dual roles of conservation and enterprise.
"The World Whale Conference is organised by the World Cetacean Alliance and their focus is the conservation and protection of cetaceans that are involved with businesses and whale and dolphin tourism,” Wally said.
"The purpose of the conference is to focus on what are the issues at the present time with whales, such as plastic pollution in the oceans and also its effect on the food we eat by micro-plastics.
"When the whale watch industry was set up in the late '80s, it was done with extremely high standards with permits, regulations and education on the boats and those standards have persisted.”
The Franklins have been studying humpback whales in Hervey Bay for the last 30 years and are directors of the Oceania Project.
In 1989, Wally and Trish first conducted an exploratory whale expedition to Hervey Bay, two years after local fishermen stated whale watching operations.
Since then they have seen it grow into a sustainable industry for the local community, with conservation and tourism working closely together.
Wally was very proactive in Hervey Bay working towards World Whale Heritage Site recognition.
"The area of Hervey Bay has such an incredible biosphere and globally this will well and truly take it to another level,” he said.
Trish pointed out how important Hervey Bay was for mothers and calves.
"It's a beautiful nurturing place for a mother with a calf and that is special because it's like a nursery,” she said.
"It's a bit like a training area for the young curious whales to socialise and learn.”
The pair have also authored or co-authored twenty-six scientific publications.