RECOMMENDATIONS FROM THE
IORA WHALE AND DOLPHIN WATCHING WORKSHOP
'Building Sustainable Whale and Dolphin Watching Tourism
in the Indian Ocean Region'
Sri Lanka, 24-26 February 2016
The Agenda can be found here.
The Press Release can be found here.
Additional materials can be found
IORA Member States summarised the discussion from the workshop
- Whale and dolphin watching tourism
is one of the fastest growing marine tourism sectors. When managed
well, whale and dolphin watching tourism creates economic, social
and ecological benefits such as inclusive economic growth,
livelihoods and job creation for communities while also encouraging
the safeguarding of marine species and habitats.
- The Indian Ocean is rich in marine
resources and provides habitat for many marine mammal species.
- Whale and dolphin watching tourism
exists across the Indian Ocean Rim region, ranging from established
and mature industries to nascent or emerging industries considering
a new form of tourism development, and can contribute to the Blue
- The behavioural ecology of whales
and dolphins, as long-lived, slow and late reproducers and socially
complex species, renders them particularly vulnerable to human
disturbance and can result in them experiencing detrimental effects
from tourism operations, if not carefully managed.
- Cetaceans face a series of threats
including ship strikes, competition with fisheries, bycatch,
chemical and noise pollution, marine debris and climate
- Member States face common
challenges in managing their whale and dolphin watching tourism,
including lack of capacity and resources including for
compliance and enforcement. Member States identified possible
solutions ranging from regulations to community education.
- The importance of sustainable
management of the industry based on best available science and
- The importance of education,
training and compliance in this industry to protect cetaceans and
deliver quality nature-based tourism products.
- Tourists have better, more
satisfying experiences when operations include an education
component and treat the animals and the environment with
- Recognised the expertise contained
within the IWC's conservation and scientific committees and Murdoch
University and the potential to collaborate with and provide
capacity building to IORA member states.
- This topic is relevant to IORA's
six priority areas and its focus on the Blue Economy, and is a
topic deserving of further regional collaboration as several
countries have recently commenced or will commence whale and
dolphin watching tourism.
- Sustainable whale and dolphin
watching tourism can provide valuable direct and indirect positive
impact for economic empowerment of women and youth with significant
spillover effects into the tourism sector value chain.
- Support sharing information and expertise among IORA Member
States to sustainably manage whale and dolphin watching tourism
operations to ensure the economic, social and ecological
sustainability of this industry by:
- Sharing information, best practice, experience and expertise
including through online communication on the IORA website.
- Sharing international expertise by collaborating with key
actors such as the International Whaling Commission which may be
able to assist with mitigation of threats to cetaceans, capacity
building and facilitate access to funding and development
- Undertaking capacity building and training for Member
- Acknowledging the need for baseline scientific information to
inform sustainable management.
- Helping develop and disseminate education materials such as
brochures to tour and boat operators for tourist education.
- Establishing an IORA sustainable whale and dolphin watching
- Member States to identify a Dolphin and Whale Tourism Watching
Focal Point, and up to 6 representatives including tourism, marine
and fisheries representatives, as well as academic/expert and
- IORA Secretariat is requested to develop a terms of reference
for the Network including mechanisms and priorities.
- Requests the IORA Secretariat, with support from Member States,
to circulate examples of guidelines and legislation from Member
States and other examples as a way of sharing existing mechanisms
and providing guidance to other Member States who have not yet
developed their own mechanisms.
- Proposes the IORA Secretariat, with support from Member States,
publishes a short brochure summarising the case studies from this
workshop to be shared on the IORA website to showcase Indian Ocean
expertise and experience, and which will also be shared with
international partners such as the IWC to inform the Whalewatching
Handbook which is a compendium of international best practice.
- Seeks further opportunities to strengthen scientific, academic
and technical cooperation including connecting whale and dolphin
researchers in IORA Member States and collaboration such as the
IORA journals, Indian Ocean Academic Group (IORAG), IORA Centre of
Excellence in Ocean Sciences and the Environment, and with the
International Whaling Commission and Murdoch University.