Whales are protected under the Nature Conservation Act 1992. The migratory behaviour of whales, and their behaviour of congregating in breeding areas, makes them susceptible to disruption and interference by whale watching vessels.
A permit is not required to conduct a commercial whale watching activity in state waters outside marine parks.
A commercial whale watching permit or agreement is needed to conduct commercial whale watching activities in Queensland marine parks. The law also limits the number of authorities that may be issued within Moreton Bay MP (three authorities only) and Great Sandy MP (20 authorities only).
The Nature Conservation (Animals) Regulation 2020 specifies minimum approach distances for whales and dolphins by people, vessels, fixed wing aircraft and helicopters, and outlines other requirements when in the vicinity of whales and dolphins. These laws are in place to prevent disruptive behaviour around whales while they are at their most vulnerable.