Caribbean whale watching operators jump-start CARIBwhale

Thursday, December 7, 2006
Roseau, Dominica
More than 15 Caribbean whale watching organizations, in partnership with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW – www.ifaw.org), met this week to formalize CARIBwhale, an association committed to conserving cetaceans and their habitat and promoting responsible whale and dolphin watching. A formal launch is planned for early 2007.
Whale watch operators from Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guadeloupe, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, as well as hotel and tourism associations from Dominica and St. Lucia participated.
 
“CARIBwhale’s mission is to foster an environment that will protect cetaceans and their habitat in the Caribbean,” said Andrew Armour of Dominica, who was elected President of CARIBwhale at this week’s meeting.  “In addition to promoting responsible whale watching we will also support non-invasive scientific research, as well as educational programs, community involvement, and advocacy.”
 
CARIBwhale will afford membership to small, medium and large regional whale watching organizations. Supporters may include regional conservation and tourism and hotel associations, with academic institutions and scientists welcome as well.
 
“One of the goals of CARIBwhale is to get some of the benefits of whale watching to potential small operators,” said Dr. Joth Singh, Trinidad-born Director of Wildlife and Habitat Protection at IFAW. “There is tremendous potential for growth in the whale watching industry in the Caribbean and there is an expressed commitment from the larger operators to provide training and exposure to individuals who may be interested in joining this growing industry.”
 
“IFAW is very pleased to assist in resuscitating CARIBwhale and is proud to be a CARIBwhale partner,” he said.
 
CARIBwhale will enhance education, training and research, in collaboration with Ministries and conservation groups. The organization will also help standardize the collection of data on marine life as well as the social and economic impacts of the whale watching industry.

“CARIBwhale promotional activities should serve to increase the numbers of tourists who visit the Caribbean,” said Cuthbert Phillips of the St. Lucia Hotel & Tourism Association. “This will benefit all of us, from our whale watching outfits, to our hotels, restaurants and shops.”
 
Also elected to the board of directors at this week’s meeting were Paul Hackshaw of St. Lucia as Vice President, Kim Halbich of St. Vincent and the Grenadines as Secretary, Kim Beddall of the Dominican Republic as Treasurer and Derek Perryman of Dominica for Public Relations.

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