SA hailed as whale sum­mit be­gins

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - NEWS - TANYA WATERWORTH

SOUTH AFRICA is a “world leader” when it comes to re­spon­si­ble whale watch­ing.

So says chief ex­ec­u­tive of the World Cetacean Al­liance, Dy­lan Walker, who ar­rived in Dur­ban this week, with ma­rine sci­en­tists and re­searchers, tourism operators and non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion rep­re­sen­ta­tives from around the world for the first World Whale Con­fer­ence to be held in Africa, which be­gan yes­ter­day and will run un­til Thurs­day.

Speak­ing to Independent Me­dia, Walker said: “South Africa is recog­nised as one of the world’s re­spon­si­ble whale- watch­ing des­ti­na­tions. It’s a world leader, and in terms of reg­u­la­tion and leg­is­la­tion, it is sec­ond to none.

“Dur­ban and KwaZu­luNatal are ex­pand­ing their whale tourism and it is well man­aged. There are many places where leg­is­la­tion with re­gard to whale watch­ing is not be­ing fol­lowed or it just doesn’t ex­ist,” said Walker, ad­ding that whale tourism was es­ti­mated to be worth $2.1 billion (R27bn).

The con­fer­ence will also in­clude the Whale Her­itage Site Sum­mit, which will look at case stud­ies of pos- sible sites around the world and iden­tify a list of po­ten­tial sites in Africa.

David Schofield, who is with the US Na­tional Ma­rine Fish­eries, was ex­pected to de­liver a pre­sen­ta­tion at the con­fer­ence. He said the con­fer­ence pro­vided a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of global is­sues in the in­dus­try.

Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­men­tal Af­fairs spokesper­son Zo­lile Nqayi said: “Whale-tar­geted tourism is one of the big con­trib­u­tors to the econ­omy, es­pe­cially in the coastal prov­inces.”

He said South Africa had re­spon­si­ble whale and dol­phin pro­to­cols.

PIC­TURE: NI­AMH WALSH-VOSTER

Dy­lan Walker, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the World Cetacean Al­liance, back, with Pa­tri­cia Sul­li­van, di­rec­tor of the Cetacean So­ci­ety In­ter­na­tional, and David Schofield, ma­rine mam­mal health and re­sponse pro­gramme co-or­di­na­tor, US Na­tional Ma­rine Fish­eries Ser­vice in Dur­ban, yes­ter­day.

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