Whale Watching as a commercial endeavour has grown considerably worldwide during the last decades. Also in the ACCOBAMS region this nature-tourism activity has been growing during the last decade as many different cetacean species may be observed (O’Connor et al., 2009).
Several international bodies such as the International Whaling Commission, cetacean scientists, and different conservation organisations state that whale watching should aim at generating educational, environmental and scientific benefits beside socioeconomic values.
Since cetaceans in the ACCOBAMS Agreement Area face several serious threats such as industrial fishery, ship collisions, underwater noise exposure, and habitat destruction it is very important to manage whale watching activities properly in order to avoid an additional anthropogenic threat to the animals.
Several steps have already been made by ACCOBAMS to provide fundamentals to manage this tourist activity such as the guidelines for commercial cetacean-watching activities in the ACCOBAMS Area (described in Resolution 1.11, 3.23 and 4.7 adopted by the Meeting of the ACCOBAMS Parties) as well as the guidelines for establishing a joint Pelagos-ACCOBAMS label for whale watching-linked activities (presented and adopted during the Fourth Meeting of the ACCOBAMS Parties in 2010).
It is very important for ACCOBAMS to understand the extent of the activity and some of its characteristics in the Agreement area which are of concern when dealing with the management of cetacean watching.
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