Tourism threat to whales curtailed in French Polynesia


Authorities in French Polynesia are cracking down on the whale watching industry.

It follows concern over the increase in the number of boats and inexperienced tour providers operating in the region, that may deplete whale populations.

Whale watching tour operators will have to complete a mandatory internship before they are issued a license.

They’ll also have to display a flag allowing marine police to spot unlicensed operators and private boat owners more easily.

Olive Andrews, from The International Fund for Animal Welfare, has welcomed the tougher laws.

“We are very lucky that these whales are coming to Pacific Island breeding grounds,” he said.

“They come to these areas to give birth and to mate so what they are doing here in the islands is very important to their life cycle and we need to make sure that we minimise our potential impact on the whales and maximise the educational aspect of the activity.”

Whale watching is a leading source of tourism revenue in French Polynesia, with the industry growing by 45 per cent between 1998 and 2005.