[MARMAM] Whale Heritage Sites - Feedback

Natalie Barefoot nbarefoot at cetaceanlaw.org
Sun Mar 20 21:21:09 PDT 2016

Dear colleagues,

The World Cetacean Alliance welcomes your views on an initiative to protect important sites around the world where people and cetaceans interact in a respectful way.
A Whale Heritage Site (WHS) is an outstanding example of a place where authentic and respectful<applewebdata://169F980A-4A4B-417D-8DC2-C3EA800D80F3#-8863238968785944536_-943332202__ftn1> interactions take place between wild cetaceans and people, and where this is also embraced in the cultural, economic, social, and political lives of associated communities.

The Whale Heritage Sites initiative is entering its third public consultation phase between now and 31 March and we welcome your thoughts, comments and ideas to help ensure that the criteria and processes are as effective as possible. Please take 10 minutes to complete our online survey here:


Alternatively you can read the full background and criteria by following these links and commenting directly by emailing dylan at worldcetaceanalliance.org<mailto:dylan at worldcetaceanalliance.org>.

Background: http://whaleheritagesites.org/about/

Criteria: http://whaleheritagesites.org/draft-criteria/

The WCA would like to thank the many people that have kindly given their time to contribute to the development of the WHS initiative and we would like to thank everybody able to contribute through the current survey or via direct comments.


Whale Heritage Sites are an innovative initiative aimed at increasing the protection and conservation of cetaceans<applewebdata://169F980A-4A4B-417D-8DC2-C3EA800D80F3#-8863238968785944536_-943332202_715215898__ftn1> (whales, dolphins and porpoises) and their habitats while contributing to sustainable livelihoods, the arts, science and education. Whale Heritage Site status will be granted to those places around the world where cetaceans are celebrated through art, education, research and cultural events; where sustainable practices and livelihoods are continually improved to ensure the health of cetacean habitats and long-term economic health of the community; and where respectful interactions between humans and cetaceans are supported through law, policy and cooperative efforts.

Whale Heritage Sites are high sea or coastal marine areas, and less often freshwater rivers and lakes, where cetaceans live or migrate through, and their associated land areas. WHS will be identified against criteria that interweave natural and cultural elements and acknowledge critical places that, for reasons of physical and social geography, are sites where people interact with cetaceans in an authentic and respectful way.


Cetaceans have played an important role in human culture for millennia. Dating back to prehistoric eras, their significance is reflected in Neolithic paintings on caves and cliffs. Revered as deities, guides, protectors and our ancestral spirits, people have sung about and celebrated cetaceans in myths, legends and true stories all over the world. To this day humans continue to be curious and enamoured by cetaceans, publishing hundreds of scientific papers each year and participating in an incrementally growing whale and dolphin tourism industry.

Nevertheless, this relationship has frequently been exploitative, with subsistence hunting taking place for centuries as a source of sustenance, and a commercial whaling industry that began in the 12th Century, triggering widespread population declines, many of which have yet to recover.

Yet from the 1960s onwards, people’s perspective on cetaceans changed as intensive scientific studies undertaken with both wild and captive animals led us to gain an insight into cetacean intelligence and began to reveal how they teach, learn, cooperate, scheme and grieve. Along with early recordings of their songs, a growing awareness of cetacean natural history and the Save the Whales movement of the 1970s and 80s led to a heightened interest in these charismatic mammals, creating a growing demand to see them in the wild.

Whale watching, the practice of observing cetaceans in their natural habitat, began in the United States of America in the 1950s and has become a tourist activity worldwide. A source of considerable scientific research, an educational platform for millions of people to learn about ocean conservation, and an important contributor to the creation of income for local communities, responsible whale-watching is now seen as an ethical alternative to holding cetaceans in captivity and as a potential long-term future for sustainable interactions with these animals in the wild.

WCA believes the development of a network of WHS, designated against carefully developed and robust criteria, can play an important role in distinguishing areas where cetaceans and people exist in harmony and mutual benefit. WHS will be confined to those places where human relationships with cetaceans are positive and not exploitative.


Natalie Barefoot and Dylan Walker

Natalie Barefoot
Executive Director
Cet Law, Inc.
Skype:  barefootnn
Tel:  +1.305.342.2602

Dylan Walker
Chief Executive Officer
World Cetacean Alliance
T +44 (0)1273 355011<tel:%2B44%20%280%291273%20355011>   M +44 (0)7900 471490<tel:%2B44%20%280%297900%20471490> S dylan.wca
E dylan at worldcetaceanalliance.org<mailto:dylan at worldcetaceanalliance.org>   W www.worldcetaceanalliance.org<http://worldcetaceanalliance.org/>
A Studio 3, Lower Promenade, Madeira Drive, Brighton, BN7 2BU, UK

The World Cetacean Alliance (WCA) is a Partnership of over 70 non-profit organisations, whale and dolphin watching tour operators and individuals in 35 countries worldwide working collaboratively to protect cetaceans and their habitats. World Cetacean Alliance, the Secretariat to the Partnership, is a UK registered Charity no. 1160484.

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