About Us


What are Whale Heritage Sites?

The Whale Heritage Site (WHS) initiative is a certification programme established by the World Cetacean Alliance (WCA).

WHS are outstanding locations where cetaceans ¹ (whales, dolphins, or porpoises)  are embraced through the cultural, economic, social, and political lives of associated communities, and where people and cetaceans coexist in an authentic and respectful way.

Their aim is to preserve cetacean species and their habitats on a global scale so that they are around for generations to come.

Benefits of Whale Heritage Sites?


The World Cetacean Alliance believes the development of a network of WHS, designated against well-developed and robust criteria, can play an important role in distinguishing areas where cetaceans and people exist in harmony.

WHS will be confined to those places where human relationships with cetaceans are positive and not exploitative.

Complementary Site Networks

WHS are designed to complement other international site networks, such as marine protected areas and national parks. For that reason, the World Cetacean Alliance acts with other managing authorities for relevant site processes to ensure that WHS complement, support and enhance them.

We anticipate that future WHS areas will incorporate biocentric (biological and ecosystem centred) processes under development for international areas including IMMAs (Important Marine Mammal Areas), EBSAs (Ecologically or Biologically Sensitive Marine Areas), KBAs (Key Biodiversity Areas), OECMs (Other Effective Area-based Conservation Measures), designated cetacean critical habitats, and/or other schematics addressing cetaceans and their habitats.

¹ A total of 87 species of cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises) and an additional 38 subspecies or subpopulations are recognised by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)


The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. At its heart are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are an urgent call for action by all countries – developed and developing – in a global partnership.

The Whale Heritage Sites programme is aligned to the United Nations SDGs, with a particular focus on Goals 1: No Poverty; 3: Good health and well-being; 4: Quality education; 7: Affordable and clean energy; 10: Reduced inequalities; 12: Responsible consumption and production; 13: Climate action; 14: Life below water; 15: Life on land; 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions; and 17: Partnerships for the goals.

Apply now

Applications are encouraged from communities and organisations that advocate a respectful connection between people and cetaceans and actively promote the preservation of cetacean habitats for the benefit of present and future generations.

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