EOI whale watching in Great Sandy Marine Park

The whale watching opportunity

The Department of Environment, Science, and Innovation (DESI), acting through Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and Partnerships (QPWS&P), invites expressions of interest (EOI) from individuals, partnerships, or companies keen on conducting commercial whale watching activities within the Great Sandy Marine Park.

QPWS&P oversees the management of the Great Sandy Marine Park. It aims to highlight the unique features of the park, particularly focusing on the annual migration of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae).

Applicants should demonstrate a commitment to environmental stewardship, sensitivity towards nature conservation, and possess relevant experience or capabilities in ecotourism management and promotion.

A dedicated assessment panel will review the received proposals, following which QPWS&P will engage in negotiations regarding the specifics of the commercial arrangements with selected candidates.

Overview of the Great Sandy Marine Park

The Great Sandy Marine Park covers a coastal area along the south-eastern coast of Queensland, within the Wide Bay–Burnett region. Stretching from Baffle Creek in the north to Double Island Point in the south, it includes features such as Hervey Bay, the Great Sandy Strait, Tin Can Bay, and the waters surrounding K’gari (formerly Fraser Island), extending seaward to three nautical miles.

Humpback whale watching in the park

Humpback whales typically traverse the Queensland coast from late autumn to late spring, with a significant portion heading south in July. Approximately a quarter of the population ventures into Hervey Bay during this period, presenting a unique whale watching opportunity from July to November. Observing the whales during their southern migration also offers the chance to witness the remarkable sight of mother whales navigating the ocean with their newborn calves.

Commercial operators interested in conducting whale watching activities in the Great Sandy Marine Park are required to meet specific evaluation criteria including:

  • Demonstrating their vision for the proposed commercial opportunity
  • Showing their performance and experience in delivering vessel-based ecotourism experiences and nature-based activities
  • Proving their financial capability, planning ability and readiness to commence operations by July 2025
  • Explaining how their operation will support the local and regional economy

Madrigal has experience in ecotourism tenders and will bring strong knowledge of natural resource management, ecology and nature conservation. EOIs close 11:59pm, 7 May 2024.