2766. Hon Alison Xamon to the Minister for Environment:
I refer to the plans to recruit replacement dolphins for the hand-feeding program at Monkey Mia, and I ask:
(a) could the Minister please provide an update on the current status of efforts to recruit more dolphins into this program;
(b) given the research finding that hand-feeding dolphins negatively impacts their health, behaviour and reproductive success, could the Minister please outline how the Department will address these impacts to the dolphins involved in this program;
(c) what outcomes in dolphin health and well-being would cause the Department to suspend or cancel the feeding program;
(d) has the Minister considered the recommendations from the independent review to improve the welfare of the Monkey Mia dolphins; and
(e) have these been implemented;
(f) if no to (e), why not?
Hon Stephen Dawson replied:
(a) Currently there are two dolphins that are provisioned at Monkey Mia. A provisioning trial is currently being implemented.
(b) The provisioning of wild dolphins at Monkey Mia is guided by approved protocols that have been developed with the advice of leading dolphin scientists and through the experience gained over many years of successful and sustainable provisioning at Monkey Mia. The provisioning program has not been shown to impact the life expectancy of adult provisioned dolphins or present an impact to the broader Shark Bay dolphin population.
(c) The provisioning program may be suspended or cancelled if it could no longer meet the principles of ecologically sustainable management.
(d)–(f) The Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions is undertaking a review of provisioning at Monkey Mia. Inputs to the review include the independent review report, the advice of DBCA and external dolphin science experts, the views of key stakeholders and the experience gained over many years of managed provisioning. The review will inform the development of an updated dolphin provisioning plan for Monkey Mia. It is anticipated that the plan will be finalised this year.