WDC is delighted to endorse a new set of guidelines for whale watching in Troms, Northern Norway, developed in response to many requests from both coastal communities and operators after a rapid increase in boat numbers, and in-water activities. A summary of the guidelines can also be downloaded.
Ideally, whale watching activities are regulated by law, but in the absence of direct government regulation for this region, guidelines such as these have an important role to play.
“The guidelines are by no means meant to thwart whale-related commercial activities. Rather, they represent best practice for the sustainability of an industry that is dependent on minimizing disturbance of a natural system”, commented Mario Acquarone, Chair of Council of the European Cetacean Society, and Researcher at the Department of Arctic and Marine Biology at the Arctic University of Norway, who co-authored the guidelines.
Russell Baker, an explorer and passionate observer of whale behaviour who co-authored the guidelines, commented: “The co-existence of humpbacks, fin whales and orcas in feeding situations is distinct from behaviour seen in other locations. The guidelines reflect this”
Baker is pleased that this initiative is very much supported by local coastal communities. He lived for some time within these communities and also spent around 700 hours alone at sea over recent winters observing marine wildlife – especially the whales. “Visit Tromsø asked for our assistance as they are determined to play a respectful role in the developing local whale watch industry. They organized educational seminars and connected us with some operators.”