Today I Discovered It's Illegal To Be Within 30 Metres Of A Seal

Image: Getty Images

Residents of Melbourne's Brighton beach were astonished to discover a leopard seal basking on the shoreline yesterday. It follows a string of similar incidents in Sydney and Tasmania. Needless to say, attempting to approach these large predators can be dangerous - but did you know it's also illegal? Apparently, it's an offence to be within a whopping 30 metres of all seal species.

In the wake of yesterday's Brighton beach seal sighting, Victorian Police issued a stern tweet reminding citizens that they're not allowed to go anywhere near a seal on land:

Police were alerted to a slumbering seal at Brighton Beach this morning. The snoozing sea beast doesn't appear to be in any distress but beware, it's an offence for people to go within 30m of a seal on land or to let a dog under your control go within 50m.

While most people realise you're not supposed to mess with native wild life, the particulars of this law aren't very well known. Indeed, several Twitter users accused the police of pointless regulation and cynical revenue raising. Others saw the funny side:

If you're curious, here are the rules that Victoria Police was citing as they appear on the government's Our Wildlife page:

  • Do not approach within 30 metres of a seal on land, whether you are also on land or in the water.
  • Dogs are not permitted within 50 metres of a seal on land.
  • Do not approach within 5 metres of a seal on a boat ramp, pier or other man-made structure.
  • Dogs must not enter the water within 150 metres of a dolphin, 300 metres of a whale or 50 metres of a seal.
  • It is illegal to touch or feed a seal.

Personally, I think 30 metres is perhaps a little excessive. That means that the untold millions of people who walked past the famous #SydneySeal at Circular Quay were technically breaking the law.

It also means you need a telescopic lens if you want to take close-up shots of seals at the beach. (Photog-cum-pervs have just been handed the perfect excuse for their dubious equipment. Tch.)


Comments

    Indeed, several Twitter users accused the police of pointless regulation and cynical revenue raising.Yeah, I'm sure the police make millions of dollars a year from fining people for being too close to a seal.
    As for being pointless, the law probably only exists because of a previous incident when some dickhead saw a seal on the beach and decided it would be funny to harass it.

      It always puzzles me that whenever the police do their job of enforcing the law. People accuse them of revenue raising. Like they think whenever people break the law there should not be any punishments, Just a slap on the wrist.

    Actually it was even more as the NSW regulations are 40 metres.

    NATIONAL PARKS AND WILDLIFE REGULATION 2009 - REG 61

    Prescribed approach distances to marine mammals
    61 Prescribed approach distances to marine mammals

    (1) For the purposes of section 112G of the Act, the following distances are prescribed:

    (a) 300 metres, if the person is approaching a cetacean and is on, or using, a prohibited vessel,

    (b) 100 metres, if the person is approaching a whale and is on, or using, a vessel other than a prohibited vessel,

    (c) 50 metres, if the person is approaching a dolphin and is on, or using, a vessel other than a prohibited vessel,

    (d) 30 metres, if the person is approaching a cetacean and is swimming,

    (e) a height lower than 300 metres within a horizontal radius of 300 metres, if the person is operating an aircraft (other than a helicopter or gyrocopter),

    (f) a height lower than 500 metres within a horizontal radius of 500 metres, if the person is operating a helicopter or gyrocopter,

    (g) 10 metres, if the person is approaching a seal or sea lion (other than a pup) that is in the water and the person is in, or on, a vessel,

    (h) 10 metres, if the person is approaching a seal or sea lion (other than a pup) that is in the water and the person is swimming or is a pedestrian,

    (i) 40 metres, if the person is approaching a seal or sea lion (other than a pup) that is hauled out on land and the person is swimming, operating a vessel or vehicle or is a pedestrian,

    (j) 80 metres, if the person is approaching a pup.

    Note : A person who approaches a marine mammal any closer than the distances prescribed above is guilty of an offence under section 112G of the Act that is punishable by a maximum penalty of 1,000 penalty units or imprisonment for 2 years, or both.

    Last edited 30/08/18 8:51 pm

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now