AS WHALES begin to be sighted off our coastline on their northern migration, there are calls for boat owners to be cautious around marine mammals.
A review of regulations protecting whales and dolphins in Australian waters, released by the International Fund for Animal Welfare, has found there is still room for improvement in educating recreational boat skippers.
"We have around a million boats in our waters; almost 230,000 of them in NSW and this is due to increase," IFAW's Matthew Collis said.
"While most people are relaxing, enjoying their surroundings, unfortunately there are a few whose lack of knowledge or irresponsible behaviour is putting whales and dolphins at risk.
The review found incidents of deliberate harassment of whales and dolphins resulted in very few prosecutions.
It also raised questions on whether park rangers and enforcement agencies are properly resourced to enforce whale and dolphin approach laws.
Boats are prohibited from approaching a whale any closer than 100m and a dolphin any closer than 50m and not directly from the rear or the front of the animal.
This distance is extended to 150m for a dolphin and 300m for a whale when a calf is present.