Why do we need Whale Heritage Sites?
The World Cetacean Alliance believes whales and dolphins should be protected and celebrated wherever they are found in the wild. Not only because they are charismatic emblems of our seas and indicators of the health of marine ecosystems, but also, and perhaps most importantly, because they have the power to inspire millions of people to care about our oceans. is also vital to support the growing whale watching industry to ensure that whales continue to have a tourism value far in excess of the value of their meat through commercial hunting.
As concern about the welfare implications of keeping these animals in captivity increases and the demand for experiential holidays rises, the number of people wanting to watch cetaceans in their natural habitats is set to expand worldwide. But as whale watching grows, it is important to ensure that it develops in a way that is sensitive to the environment, the welfare of the animals involved and the livelihoods of local communities.
In many parts of the world where the industry has grown up with little regulation, it is in danger of becoming increasingly unsustainable and in some of the worst cases is causing behavioural change or physical harm to the very animals that attract tourists and support livelihoods.
That’s why we are proud to be launching Whale Heritage Sites as an accreditation scheme that will promote whale and dolphin watching to the public and encourage the adoption of responsible whale watching practices in destinations worldwide.
But that’s only half the story. Whale Heritage Sites will also be locations where coastal communities celebrate cetaceans and marine biodiversity through cultural activities represented by the arts, music, science, education and events. These sites will deliver long-term protection for marine habitats and sustainable development for the coastal communities that depend on the sea by inspiring local people to value their whale heritage.