(Whether you agree with it or not unfortunately)
International news was made in April for dolphin feeding in Tin Can Bay but not for the well known Barnacles Café dolphin feeding program. Two brothers were out filming for their Hooked on the Gaf Twins Fishing YouTube channel when the puppy eyes of a dolphin caught their attention while drifting in Snapper Creek.
Having made their catches for the day with more than a few big ones, a split second decision to share the remainder of the locally caught mullet bait with one of the pod as a magical moment ending to their episode has resulted in a visit from Fisheries and a fine.
Tin Can Bay local Dave Gafa and his twin brother Mick have been highlighting the Cooloola Coast as a top fishing spot for the last couple of years on YouTube and Facebook and were unaware that the offering of a few pieces of fish to the wild dolphin was in fact an illegal act. Dave has worked in the marine industry for about 15 years and had no idea of the regulations regarding feeding marine animals.
Unlike the fully licensed and regulated dolphin feeding program that is run from Barnacles Café and is noted in the Nature Conservation (Wildlife Management) Regulation 2006 as a permitted activity with reporting requirements, feeding dolphins is an offense under the same Act section ‘338S (1) A person must not, without a reasonable excuse, do any of the following- (d) feed a marine mammal.’
There are also regulations regarding approach distances to reduce the risk of disturbing dolphins and they apply to boats (including kayaks and paddle boards), prohibited vessels (e.g. jet skis and hovercraft), aircraft, remotely piloted aircraft (e.g. drones), helicopter, and people who are in the water. The no approach zone surrounds the animal for 50 metres and extends 150 metres in front of and behind the animal.
While Dave was only fined $431, the maximum fine a court can impose for feeding a wild dolphin is $11,500 so awareness of the legislation is now a mission of the Hooked on the Gaf Twins Fishing duo. They’re planning some education in upcoming episodes and have updated their apparel to feature a ‘Don’t Feed the Dolphins’ range so the word gets out.
If you’d like the chance to get on the education bandwagon then there are two No Feeding Dolphins shirts up for grabs. All you have to do is email your name and size to firstname.lastname@example.org with the heading Shirt Giveaway and you’ll be in the running for one of either a boy’s grey or girl’s pink. There’s also kids size available so don’t forget to enter the juniors as well! Entries close 5pm on Friday 26 May 2023.
If you want to see the Gafa boys in action then head to their Facebook page hooked_on_the_gaf_twins_fishin for links to the YouTube channel and a few hints and tips on fishing. If you’re familiar with local landmarks you’ll figure out all their top spots for getting tightlines and bringing home a feed!