Whale watching areas to become “heritage sites”

Areas to engage with local communities and boost income
Whale watching is being given a new accreditation scheme to ensure tourists can have the least possible impact on the mammals.
The World Cetacean Alliance (WCA) will be granting Whale Heritage Site status to areas of the world considered to be centres of excellence and responsibility in taking care of and engaging with cetaceans.
The areas will demand the highest standards of responsible whale and dolphin watching. They will also engage with local communities. It is hoped the scheme will boost visitor numbers and income while enabling sustainable management of marine resources.
The scheme is being further backed with a Whale Heritage Sites Summit being held in October in the Azores, where delegates will agree on the final criteria for site designation. It is hoped the first site will then be chosen in 2016.
“The best possible way to protect ocean wildlife is to encourage people to see it for themselves in a responsible way,” WCA secretariat Dylan Walker said. “If, through Whale Heritage Sites, those same people can also experience coastal communities that celebrate and care for their marine natural heritage and understand the importance of a sustainable approach, we may yet win the battle to save our oceans.”
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