There is a four-tiered candidacy process: an initial assessment online, a candidacy review, a final application, and then, assuming success, WHS designation.


  1. Initial application: Initially the applicant completes a short online application form to apply to be either ‘Shortlisted for Candidacy’ or a ‘Candidate’ Whale Heritage Site. Each application is reviewed by the Whale Heritage Sites steering committee to ensure there are no fundamental issues that preclude shortlisting or candidacy. This might include basic reasons where the coexistence of humans and cetaceans is viewed as consumptive or compromises welfare, for example, where whaling still exists, or where cetaceans are held in captivity for any other reason than rehabilitation and release, or sanctuary.Applicants receive a response to their application within 10 working days. We may sometimes contact you for further information before making a final decision. If the initial assessment is approved, applicants have two options:


  • Shortlisted for Candidacy. Shortlisted Sites can access support and expertise from the World Cetacean Alliance as they bring together stakeholders, seek further funding, and make initial steps towards Candidacy. This requires a payment of US$1,500 for one year and includes logo branding.


  • Candidate Site. Sites where stakeholders are already working together and the funds exist to go through the process to full accreditation can move immediately to Candidate status. This requires a payment of US$5,500, includes logo branding, and activates further consultation and audit processes required to obtain full accreditation.


  1. Candidate review: A site that has passed through initial review will be accepted as either Shortlisted for Candidacy or as a Candidate Site and will receive the appropriate logo and license. Shortlisted Sites can access support and expertise from the World Cetacean Alliance, including advice on improving collaboration, training, assistance with fundraising bids, and access to helpful resources and templates. seek further funding, and make initial steps towards Candidacy. Candidate sites undertake a detailed review, including a stakeholder analysis, resulting in a report with recommendations for specific improvement prior to application for full WHS status. The steering committee for the site then undertakes any required improvements either independently, or, if requested, with help and advice from the World Cetacean Alliance (WCA). Candidate WHS status will last for a maximum of three years before it is either revoked or renewed, or the site applies for full accreditation. During this period the site must submit annual reports summarising progress made towards full WHS status.


  1. Final application: At this point, the site is invited to submit the following information to the WHS Independent Review Panel (IRP):


  • Baseline quantitative data (including for example statistics relevant to livelihoods, tourists visiting the area, whale-watch tour operators, protected areas, etc.) to enable the IRP to build a picture of the site.


  • Justification for the geographical/political delineation of the site.


  • A detailed explanation of how the site achieves each of the criteria.


This information will be reviewed along with a report from an independent on-site audit. All of this information will be presented to the WHS IRP for consideration. The IRP will evaluate the site against the criteria and either


1) award the site WHS status;

2) award the site WHS status upon the fulfilment of certain specific conditions; or

3) deny WHS status. This process may be protracted where a site is well-developed under the criteria, or may involve a period of technical assistance to address identified weaknesses prior to full accreditation.


4. Site designation: The site has passed through the IRP and been designated as a WHS.  The site will be expected to prepare and submit annual reports explaining how criteria are met, and will be subject to IRP review every three years.  Upon request and submission of evidence that the criteria are no longer being met, the site may be investigated and/or downlisted.