Young Chase Mill adopts Mr Powell’s dolphin feeding style.
Young Chase Mill adopts Mr Powell’s dolphin feeding style. Craig Warhurst

Powell steps in to see timeless tradition live on

IT WAS a small step for one minister, but a giant leap for Tin Can Bay when Andrew Powell fed the dolphins at Norman Point yesterday.

In buying a fish and getting his feet wet, Queensland's Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection achieved goals unmatched by any predecessor, helping preserve not only the Bay's environment and its heritage, but its economic future as well.

A crowd of at least 50 - volunteers, visitors and business people - joined Mr Powell on a drizzly morning.

When Andrew Powell stepped into the waters of Snapper Creek yesterday, he stepped right into one of his most contentious issues - dolphin feeding at Tin Can Bay.

One of Australia's most loved environmental experiences, the feeding institution has been the target of sometimes farcical and often dishonest attempts by Mr Powell's own department to shut it down.

Yesterday, Mr Powell - dressed in swimmers, a casual shirt and a breezy smile - effortlessly put the bureaucrats in their place and put his democratic stamp on environmental decision making in Queensland.

A relic of indigenous times, the unique inter-species friendships of Tin Can Bay included ancient aboriginal fishermen working in co-operation with dolphins, which would drive fish into their nets in return for an easily caught commission in the shallows.

Welcoming guests at the Barnacles Cafe feeding site, volunteer co-ordinator Di Andrews quoted research by fisherman Joe McLeod on what is now a vital part of the Bay's tourism drawing power.

"It wouldn't have happened without Joe," Barnacles owner Les Dunstan said.

Mr McLeod was the author of pro-feeding submissions which proved bureaucratic advice wrong and overturned a biased review, including a favoured option which would have ended feeding within a generation.

"We want Queenslanders, all Australians and our guests from around the world to have this experience - and now they can do it with security," Mr Powell said.

"And how fantastic an experience it is!"

He announced agreement with Barnacles to allow feeding, subject to conditions to protect dolphins and their wild creature status.

"It's been going on for three decades and some say a lot longer than that," the Minister said.

Gympie MP David Gibson said the agreement was a win for Bay business.

"Under Labor, dolphin feeding was always under threat and indeed we saw them attempt to stop it on several occasions," he said.

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