A historic moment in Pacific whale protection

I just wanted to update you on an historic moment in Pacific whale protection last week.

On Friday 3rd October, HRH Princess Salote Mafile'o Pilolevu Tuita was declared the Royal Patron for Whales in the Kingdom of Tonga in an event hosted by IFAW, the Tongan Visitors Bureau, the Vava'u Tourism Association and the Tonga Whale Watching Operators Association.

This heralds a new era for whale conservation in Tonga and, more broadly, the Pacific Islands region. As a little background, the previous King of Tonga (King Tupou IV) was a strong supporter of whale conservation and banned whaling in 1978 – as a result of his foresight the whale population is slowly recovering. Now the torch has been passed from father to daughter.

During her speech Princess Pilolevu made some very important announcements; that a fund is being established to support whale research and conservation in Tonga and that she would request the Government of Tonga declare Tonga a whale sanctuary, join the Convention on Migratory Species and ensure that whale watching guidelines are legislated and monitored.

Given the role and status of the Royal Family in Tonga, we hope these commitments will become a reality.


Erica Martin

Director IFAW Asia-Pacific

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