Regulating whale watching in sri lanka

Jetwing Eco Holidays believes that an approrpiate system needs to be in place to regulate whale watching by licensing whale watching boat operators. The three key objectives of the whale wathing regulations should be;

1. The welfare of the whales and other marine wildlife.

2. The safety of clients.

3. Recognition that marine mammal viweing is an economic asset for Sri lanka whcih has to be nurtured and grown to alleiaviate povetry in the South of the country.

One of the most effective mechanisms to achies this is to operate a licesnsing scheme for the whale watching boat operators to ensure that they comply with gudileines for safety of their clients and the marine mammals. Boats should be insured, have life jackets, not exceed a safe passenger load, have communication equiment, be trained in first aid, etc. They must also be trained in how to handle marine wildlife without causing stress.

There are many whale watching regulations and codes published arpound the world. These can be easily found by searching the web. We have copied below one exmpale from the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society of the UK.

Jetwing Eco Holidays also believes that whale watching is one of the best media hooks Sri lanka has to draw the attention of the international media. It is therefore a powerful economic as well as media asset which can have far reaching benefits beyond the immediate beneficiaries in the south. It can benefeit the brand image of the country as well as tourism generally.

The  Jetwing Eco Holidays team with its CEO Gehan de Silva Wijeyeratne played a pivotal role in  a stronng burst of publcity internationally to position the south of Sri lanka as one of the top whale watching sites in the world. We hope that intelligent and pragmatic legislation will be drawn so that whales and clients can safely and with ease enjoy the island’s waters.

Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society Cetacean Watching Code of Conduct

Whales and dolphins are highly intelligent animals, sensitive to disturbance and can be hit by vessels, including their propellers. If they approach the boat or bow-ride, maintain a slow speed and course until clear. Cetaceans should never be chased or harassed in an attempt to make them bow-ride. When watching dolphins, always let them decide what happens.

When watching marine mammals please follow these simple guidelines:

KEEP your distance. Never go closer than 100m (200m if another boat is present)

NEVER drive head on to, or move between, scatter or separate dolphins. If unsure of their movements, simply stop and put the engine into neutral.

PLEASE spend no longer than 15 minutes near the animals

SPECIAL care must be taken with mothers and young

MAINTAIN a steady direction and slow ‘no wake’ speed

NEVER try to swim with cetaceans for your safety and theirs

DO NOT dispose of any rubbish, litter or contaminants at sea