AN underwater alarm being used to protect whales from entanglement in Queensland and New South Wales shark nets is attracting attention from governments and scientists around the world.
Fumunda Marine, located at the University of the Sunshine Coast's Innovation Centre, is recognised as a world leader in the design and manufacture of underwater alarms known as Pingers. Pingers are used to stop marine mammal "bycatch" - the term used to describe the entanglement of marine mammals in fishing nets.
With the support of the Queensland government, in 2009 Fumunda was able to design a new low frequency Pinger specifically aimed at warning migrating Humpback whales to the presence of shark nets off Australia's East Coast says Fumunda managing director James Turner.
Queensland's Minister for Fisheries and Marine Infrastructure Craig Wallace recently announced that the use of the Whale Pingers has seen a significant reduction in whale entanglements.
There was just one in 2010 and another in 2011 after the Pingers were introduced recently and both of these whales were successfully released.
"The use of Pingers has the potential to save many of the 300,000 marine mammals estimated that are caught and drown in fishing gear around the world every year," he said.
Mr Turner said global interest in his product was intesifying.
"We have received enquiries about the new Whale Pinger from Governments and scientists in South Africa, Portugal, Ecuador, Tanzania, and the USA to name a few.
"It‟s important now that we keep the momentum in Pinger interest going.
"The new Whale Pinger is a new and exciting step forward in whale protection but we must now move to ensure that we can successfully commercialise the product in order to meet expected global demand."