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Parliament’s Dolphin Sanctuary Inquiry Finds Urgent Action Required to Address Decline In Health of Dolphins

The multi-party Parliamentary Committee inquiring into the Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary has found that the objects of the Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary Act 2005 are not being met and urgent action is required to address the decline in the health of resident dolphins.

The Committee, initiated and Chaired by Greens MLC Tammy Franks, was established in June last year. Some of the key findings include:

  • Toxicants are likely to be implicated in the declining health and mortalities of the dolphins.
  • Not enough is understood about legacy toxicants lying in the sediment in the ADS, particularly PFAS and microplastics.
  • Dolphins are being negatively impacted by fishing gear
  • Heightened public awareness of individual dolphins that reside in the Port River and Barker Inlet means a very high risk of public outrage from injury to those dolphins.
  • Although government agencies are meant to be working together, there is a lack of central coordination which has helped contribute to the decline in health and deaths/disappearances of dolphins
  • Slowing down boats and other vessels is likely to reduce the risks of injuries to dolphins
  • The number of marine safety officers and park rangers needs to be increased.

The Committee made a range of recommendations, including that the Minister for Environment and Water appoints an appropriately qualified body or person to advocate for the ecosystem health of the ADS and advise the Minister on appropriate proactive measures to meet the objects of the Act.

The full Interim Report is available here: https://www.parliament.sa.gov.au/en/Committees/Committees-Detail

The Committee included representatives from Labor, the Liberals, One nation and Greens. The Committee received 24 submissions and heard evidence from 30 witnesses.

Quotes attributable to Tammy Franks MLC:

“It is patently obvious that the original intentions of the Act that established the Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary are not currently being fulfilled, and there is some concern that dolphins are dying because of things that are preventable.”

“It’s clear that we urgently need a body that provides oversight of the Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary and provides a strong voice for the protection of these dolphins.”

“I hope that through the continuation of the work of this Committee we will see this sad story turned around to one where South Australians can be proud that the parliament intervened and ensured that our dolphins were treated in the way that they should be. The Committee will continue to monitor these issues into the future.”

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