Respectful Human-Cetacean Co-existence


Achieving respectful human-cetacean coexistence often requires guidelines being set that are related to the interactions between humans and cetaceans that support and regulate best practice in the appropriate local context. In the process of becoming fully accredited as a WHS it is important to build and continually improve a responsible framework that manages these relations.



Our candidate site, Vancouver Island North, Canada, is home to the North Island Marine Mammal Stewardship Association (NIMMSA) that is currently made up of and represents 21 organisations in the area. The aim of NIMMSA is to act as a formal body to undertake particular actions that will improve the marine environment in the area.

The vessel operators and naturalist guides that are part of NIMMSA have to be trained to particular standards that give them the ability to identify species, behaviours and movement patterns. They also have to abide by a code of conduct so that all NIMMSA members conduct business in a respectful manner for the species, viewers and others in the area.

NIMMSA use an interesting technique to manage safety, whereby a whale watching flag is flown by vessels that are engaged in whale watching to inform transiting vessels that there are likely to be whales in that area. The transiting vessel then makes consequential adjustments to their movements to ensure safety.

NIMMSA exemplifies how effective collaboration can be to achieve a respectful human-cetacean co-existence.