A man was fined $5000 and given a criminal conviction in Narooma Local Court for riding his jet ski too close to a pod of common bottlenose dolphins off Kianga.
In his defence, Adam Lindsay King, 52, of Marian Street, Coogee, said he was caught up in the moment and, while he was aware of proximity restrictions for whales, he did not realise similar rules applied to dolphins.
He told the court he was a volunteer surf lifesaver in Sydney and a firefighter. He said he would never do it again and there should be signs at boat ramps to warn boaters of the rules.
Magistrate Doug Dick read from the prosecution notice that police observed Mr King riding his personal watercraft over and around the pod of dolphins for five minutes, preventing them from surfacing in what they described as deliberate interference.
Police also viewed 39 files on King’s mobile phone of footage he had taken riding close to the dolphins.
He was convicted of interfering or approaching a marine mammal within a proscribed distance.
The fine was only 5 per cent of the maximum penalty of $100,000 and two years in jail, as the magistrate took into account his good personal character, guilty plea and remorse.
According to NSW Maritime and the Department of Environment guidelines, for a normal vessel, the approach distance is 100m from a whale or 50m from a dolphin, but for a prohibited vessel such as a jet ski, the approach distance is always 300m from a whale or dolphin.
When calves are in the pod, the approach distance for a vessel is 300m from a whale and 150m from a dolphin, according to the guidelines.