Yesterday I was invited to the first meeting of the "Echo Whale Alliance" near my village. My director of the company ESSIPIT had asked me to join him because I am for the first time present in the region. The company I work with on the river is a member of this group.
To recall the purpose of the "Alliance", just read their explanation on their website:
The Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park is one of the best places in the world for whale watching. Hundreds of them make it an annual destination, after a migration of several thousand kilometers. In recognition of the exceptional value of this jewel and of the awareness-raising power of whale-watching excursions, tour companies, Parcs Québec, Parks Canada and the Group for Research and Education on Marine Mammals (GREMM) have joined forces to ensure the responsible practice and sustainable development of whale-watching activities in the marine park.
The objectives of the Eco Whale Alliance are:
- Raise public awareness of conservation;
- Limit the impacts of whale watching activities on whales;
- Monitor the resource and the effectiveness of management measures;
- Follow responsible practices from an environmental, social and economic point of view;
- To work in a spirit of cooperation by bringing together the actors of tourism, research and conservation.
The members of the Alliance are committed to a process of continuous improvement to ensure that marine activities in the marine park are a model of sustainable use.
The agenda for the meeting was:
- Welcoming Remarks
- Regulation (information)
- Training (information)
- Law enforcement (information)
- Actions with boaters (information)
- Implementation of the sustainable practices guide (discussion)
- Weekly challenge (themes and implementation) (discussion)
- Intra-alliance communication: newsletter and meetings at the beginning, middle and end of the season (discussion)
- Communications with research (discussion)
I enjoyed this day and it was a real debate of ideas. I mentioned the case of last year when I found the two humpback whales and 5 minutes later 20 boats were around me. This is not normal. The subject was tense with the other companies but constructive.
The next meeting is at the end of June.
Have a good week.
Grandes-Bergeronnes - Quebec, Canada, April 2012