26 September 2023

Whales caught with their breaches up

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The humpback whale has been promoted out of Australia’s threatened species list, following what the Minister for the Environment called “one of the most majestic animal recovery stories ever recorded”.

The Minister, Sussan Ley said that while international protections remained firmly in place to prevent any form of whale hunting, the strength of the humpback whale population meant the independent Threatened Species Scientific Committee no longer regarded them as endangered or vulnerable.

“This is not about removing safeguards for humpbacks, which are still a protected migratory species, but it is a recognition of the success of the outstanding conservation efforts that are in place,” Ms Ley said.

“At the height of the global whaling industry, there were as few as 1,500 humpback whales in Australian waters; today that population is believed to be as many as 40,000 individuals and growing,” she said.

“Australia is a world leader in whale conservation, and we will continue to work through the International Whaling Commission to promote whale conservation and maintain the global moratorium on commercial whaling.”

Ms Ley said the decision to remove the whale from its threatened species list followed a public consultation process and a detailed independent assessment by the Committee.

“Our removal of the humpback from the threatened species list is based on science and sends a clear signal about what can be achieved through coordinated action,” she said.

“It is a message of hope for the welfare of a number of species.”

The Minister said two populations of humpback whales bred in Australian waters and migrated along the east and west coasts annually from May to November.

Ms Ley said previous studies showed that Australia’s humpback whale populations had been recovering at close to their maximum possible rate since the cessation of whaling in 1979.

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