Whale watching: Enhancing the livelihood of local communities
February 26, 2010
Whale watching: Enhancing the livelihood of local communities

EXPERTS, international whale watching industry representatives, civil society groups and international NGOs meeting at the Symposium in Sainte Luce, Martinique, 18-21 February 2010, on sustainable ‘blue’ tourism in the Caribbean, strongly urge Caribbean Governments to give their full support and encouragement to whale-watching activities as a valid and sustainable means of protecting marine mammal populations and creating jobs, earning foreign exchange and providing sustainable livelihoods for fishermen and local coastal communities.{{more}}

Whale-watching has become a US$2.1 billion global industry, with whale-watching as a tourism activity growing in the Caribbean and Central American region at a rate of 12.8% (2008), three times more than the growth rate of the global tourism industry (4.2%).

Countries in this region are now earning nearly US$54 million from whale-watching as part of their tourism product, while earnings from whaling are minimal. These figures demonstrate that whale-watching contributes to sustainable development and helps to preserve our biodiversity and natural heritage, for the benefit of fishers and local communities.

The Symposium calls on all Caribbean Governments to ensure that any participation by them in the International Whaling Commission (IWC) reflects these economic and ecological realities of the region. The Symposium further recalls the principled position of Prime Minister, the Hon Roosevelt Skerrit, for his 2008 decision to withdraw his Government’s support for whaling at the IWC “incompatible” with Dominica’s brand as a “Nature Isle”, and the leaders of other OECS countries to join him.