Canadian tour company, Eagle Eye Adventures, has become the first global firm to become certified under the World Cetacean Alliance‘s (WCA) new international standards for responsible whale and dolphin watching.
In being awarded the certification, Eagle Eye Adventures, based in the Campbell River area of Vancouver Island in Canada, have demonstrated a commitment to ensuring that animal welfare, sustainability, and a high quality customer experience are at the heart of their company. For example:
- Customers learn about whales and dolphins in the local area during their tour, including the threats that they face, and how customers can help protect them;
- Eagle Eye Adventures use innovative range finding technology to guarantee that its boats stay outside of the minimum approach distances to the animals; and
- The company have also invested in a local environmental schools education programme as part of a collective of local tour operators.
The Responsible Whale Watching certification programme was developed by scientists, whale watching businesses, and marine conservation charities in over 40 countries, all represented through the World Cetacean Alliance (WCA). WCA CEO Dylan Walker highlights:
“WCA Responsible Whale Watching certification will provide customers with a clear label that stands for quality and environmental responsibility. I have to say that certification as a WCA Responsible Whale Watching operator represents absolute best practice so Eagle Eye Adventures have set a very high benchmark.”
Global whale and dolphin watching generates a significant US$2.1 billion each year in revenue, and is available in over 120 countries worldwide. When managed poorly, whale watching tourism can potentially impact negatively on the very animals it relies upon, for example, when tour operators ignore guidelines or regulations to ensure that customers get the closest or best photo opportunity. This can have negative short and long term sustainability impacts. For example, on the welfare of whales and dolphins, which can sometimes cause the animals to leave these habitats, affecting tour operator incomes and local communities. When conducted responsibly and respectfully, however, whale watching tourism provides benefits to visitors and local communities, for example, providing local jobs and income, and giving locals and visitors the opportunity to see these ocean animals in the wild, whilst raising awareness about the threats to our oceans.