Feasibility study into establishing a dolphin sea-pen sanctuary in Coffs Harbour, New South Wales

AFD are working with Dolphin Marine Conservation Park (DMCP) and World Animal Protection on a feasibility study into building Australia’s first dolphin sanctuary. A sea-pen sanctuary is a large enclosed area in a natural marine environment. The proposed location is within the Coffs Harbour Basin. The sanctuary will house the four dolphins currently in DMCP, Calamity, Bella, Zippy and Jet. The sea-pen sanctuary will be one of the first in the world and aims to improve the overall welfare of the dolphins. The feasibility study is in the final stages of completion, so far, the project has: Commissioned government agency, Manly Hydraulics Laboratory (MHL), to conduct wave and tidal data analysis in the Coffs Harbour basin. MHL are coastal engineering experts with decades of wave and climate data in NSW. Their findings revealed it is possible from an engineering perspective to build a dolphin sanctuary in the proposed area. Commissioned a Second Stage Report by MHL which outlined more detailed possible locations and concept designs, these were presented to relevant stakeholders at a council meeting in Coffs Harbour. Gained in principle support from major stakeholders including the Road and Maritimes Services in NSW and the Aboriginal Land Council in Coffs Harbour. Held a roundtable discussion with cetacean experts from around Australia to discuss potential issues and considerations. Flew dolphin behaviourist expert, Dr Isabella Clegg, from the UK to conduct an animal welfare assessment. Her theoretical assessment found that the sanctuary would improve the welfare of the dolphins.