Growth of Pacific Islands Whale Watching Industry Cited at Meeting of International Whaling Commission

Monday, June 19, 2006
Frigate Bay, St. Kitts
Whale watching has emerged as an industry growing “strongly” in the Pacific Islands region, says a new preliminary independent report released today by Australia at the 58th meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in St. Kitts.
The preliminary findings show that the region’s whale watching activities have increased 45% for the period 1998-2005, with a total of 109,540 whale watchers in 2005 alone. The report also found that the Cook Islands, French Polynesia and Guam experienced the strongest annual average growth rates; and that new whale watching operations have emerged recently in Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa & Solomon Islands.

Australia’s Minister for the Environment and Heritage, the Hon. Ian Campbell said: “I have seen the build up, from a standing start, of Australia’s whale watching industry. Having just completed my third visit to the Pacific, I am delighted to see it now beginning to build up there. The employment and economic benefits have the potential to transform lives and nations. Japan’s JARPA II whale hunt could destroy any hope of this opportunity.”

IFAW Asia Pacific Regional Director Mick McIntyre said: “Whale watching is a win-win solution for whales and people in the Pacific Island Region, bringing terrific economic opportunities to these coastal communities. It’s the 21st century alternative to whaling – a truly sustainable use of whales.”

Ecolarge, an independent economic research and consulting firm based in Sydney, Australia, prepared the report; which was supported by IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare), South Pacific Tourism Organization, and the South Pacific Whale Research Consortium.  The A copy of the preliminary report is available on the IFAW website at www.ifaw.org.au 
 
IFAW is calling on IWC members to take a strong stand against commercial whaling at this year’s meeting of the International Whaling Commission. To make your voice heard in support of whales, visit IFAW’s campaign website www.stopwhaling.org today.

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