Benefits of Whale Heritage Sites

There are a number of environmental, social and economic benefits which will result from the implementation of Whale Heritage Sites.

Environmental

The environmental benefits of Whale Heritage Sites are:

  • Improved animal welfare: Whale Heritage Sites will reduce the negative impacts of whale and dolphin watching on cetaceans and encourage the adoption of responsible practices.
  • Cetacean preservation: Global recognition of these sites will also help build the financial, legal and political support necessary to ensure cetaceans are conserved for future generations.
  • Ocean conservation: These sites will raise awareness within destination communities and amongst visitors, of the importance of ocean conservation.
  • Enhanced Biodiversity: Whale Heritage Sites will help to protect critical habitat including key breeding, feeding and migratory areas for cetaceans and other wildlife.
  • Global knowledge share: Communication between Whale Heritage Sites will be an important part of the programme, enhancing the reputation of each destination and encouraging the sharing of knowledge, learning and best practice with other destinations, including those in the developing world, to drive up standards worldwide.
  • Furthers scientific understanding: Whale Heritage Sites will encourage the development and strengthening of links between maritime users and educational and research establishments, resulting in evidence-based management of marine resources.

Social

The social benefits of Whale Heritage Sites are:

  • Environmental Education: Whale Heritage Site development promotes responsible whale and dolphin watching as an opportunity for both tourists and locals to learn, inspire and educate others about the importance of the ocean environment.
  • Improved local community cohesion and interest in sustainability: Encourages ownership of, and pride in the marine natural heritage and the further development of a cultural relationship between people, cetaceans, and the sea.
  • Develops alternative livelihoods: May reduce dependence on fishing. Through strengthening the tourism sector and its sustainability, whale and dolphin watching can provide alternative livelihoods for communities formerly reliant on fishing.
  • Boosts climate change resilience: By diversifying livelihoods and boosting income for those reliant on the marine environment to make a living, coastal communities are better prepared to adapt to the fluctuations likely to result from the changing climate.

Economic

The economic benefits of Whale Heritage Sites are:

  • Increased visitor numbers: By bringing international attention to the destination as a responsible whale / dolphin watching site.
  • Enhanced incomes and improved livelihoods: Important for frequently marginalised coastal and fishing communities.
  • Increased opportunities for funding: Whale Heritage Sites can provide a focal point for investment from international/regional development, environmental or community related funding streams.
  • Supports the creation of strong public/private partnerships: These sites require partnerships between government, the tourism sector, and NGOs to achieve conservation and sustainability objectives. The co-operation of these sectors should lead to the development of a stronger and more competitive tourism offering.
  • Supports and enhances existing tourism activities: Creation of Whale Heritage Sites and the associated improved management of the ocean environment will have a positive impact on other marine stakeholders including the fishing and diving communities.
  • Capacity Building: Working towards Whale Heritage Site designation will expand the capacity, knowledge and experience of tourism industry stakeholders in destinations, particularly with regard to sustainability, inter-sectoral working, quality control and strategic planning.