The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment has completed a comprehensive review that sets out 15 recommendations to address the management of deceased whales in New South Wales. The review was finalised in September 2019 and we are now implementing the recommendations.
In 2017, in response to growing public concern that whale carcasses buried on beaches attract sharks, the Department undertook a review into the management of deceased whales in New South Wales.
The review investigated public concerns, explored the science and suggested potential changes to give the community greater confidence.
The Department consulted with local councils, other NSW government agencies, Aboriginal stakeholders, interstate government agencies, emergency services, rescue organisations, universities and scientific experts.
National Parks and Wildlife Service providing central advisory service for 2020 whale migrations season
National Parks and Wildlife Service is responsible for protecting and managing live marine mammals in New South Wales. As subject matter experts, National Parks and Wildlife Service will also provide support and advice to other land managers when they need to deal with deceased whales on their land.
In coming months, National Parks and Wildlife Service will deliver practical information and best practice guidance that the public and land managers can use to help ensure deceased whales are managed safely and effectively.
Land managers responsible for deceased whales
Land managers are responsible for managing deceased whales on the land or water they manage. In New South Wales, local councils, National Parks and Wildlife Service, Crown Lands and the Department of Primary Industries (Fisheries) generally manage this land.
No longer burying deceased whales in urban or high visitations areas
To address community concerns about sharks a precautionary approach is recommended. Land managers should leave deceased whales in situ to decompose naturally, unless the carcass is in an urban or high visitation area. In urban and high visitation areas the preferred management option is to remove deceased whales, except where the beach is not accessible by the machinery needed to transport a carcass to landfill, or where carcass removal would pose a high risk to the health and safety of responders.
The Environment Protection Authority supporting disposal of deceased whales
The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) will assist land managers to dispose of deceased whales by amending legislation to allow for an exemption from the waste levy and ensuring deceased whales are accepted as putrescible waste at waste facilities.
Continue supporting research – do buried whales attract sharks?
In late 2016 the NSW Government partnered with Southern Cross University to fund a world-first, 3-year study to establish scientific evidence as to whether whale carcasses buried on beaches attract sharks. While preliminary findings have been reported in the media, these are not conclusive. The research is anticipated to be completed in late 2019.