• Home
  • News
  • IAATO Votes New Whale Protection Measures Into Effect

IAATO Votes New Whale Protection Measures Into Effect

by Oceanwide Expeditions News 17.05.2019

On May 3 the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) voted measures into effect that will reduce the incidence of tourist ships striking whales around the Antarctic Peninsula.
IAATO Votes New Whale Protection Measures Into Effect

Regions: Antarctica

New unanimously supported measures minimize Antarctic whale strike

On May 3 the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) voted measures into effect that will reduce the incidence of tourist ships striking whales around the Antarctic Peninsula.

The vote occurred at its annual meeting, held in Cape Town this year, and offers Antarctic tour operators two possible options: They must either commit to a 10-knot speed restriction within a specific time zone and area, or (if they already have a program to reduce whale strike) they must recruit an extra crewmate to monitor and record whale sightings within the said area and time zone.

These measures go into effect July 1, before the start of the 2019 – 20 Antarctic travel season, which begins in October.

Mark van der Hulst, Oceanwide Expeditions chief operating officer and IAATO executive committee chair, said of these new measures, “IAATO shows its commitment to safe and environmentally responsible travel through decisions like this. These measures were initially proposed as a smaller request, but IAATO members felt so strongly about them that we decided to make them mandatory.”

Van der Hulst added that both the Antarctic Treaty System and IAATO require tourism to impact Antarctica as little as possible, a goal for which IAATO has a strict and proactive track record. “This is a proud moment for IAATO,” he said, “and hopefully a defining one for the polar travel industry.”

Almost all humpback whale populations in the Southern Hemisphere have been on the rise since 1982, when commercial fishing for the species was banned. In fact, some of these populations have approached their biological maximum. Happywhale, an organization that tracks whales, recorded 900 humpback sightings in Antarctica this year compared to 700 sightings last year.

But these dense populations have the disadvantage of making whale strike more common, especially in areas where whales breed, socialize, migrate, and feed. IAATO’s new measures respond to this vulnerability, supporting the continued increase in whale populations.

Each year the tour operators that make up IAATO set aside their business competitions to engage in candid discussions on environmental protection, self-regulation, and safety for passengers and crew. Recommendations made over the tourism year by these member operators are then considered, and at annual meetings votes are held about which practices to implement.

IAATO was founded in 1991 and has a global network of over 100 members. It promotes safe, environmentally responsible private-sector travel to the Antarctic, working to develop and adopt operational standards that mitigate potential environmental impacts. These standards include but are not limited to site-specific landing guidelines, passengers limitations on shore, emergency procedures, and more.

Love this article? Share your appreciation:

Related cruises

Antarctic Explorer's Voyage

Antarctic Pioneering Voyage

PLA23-19. During this voyage, we will attempt landings that have rarely if ever been offered by Oceanwide Expeditions – or any other Antarctic cruise operator. Flexibility is key during these thrilling expeditions. Since information about most of the landing sites is limited or unknown, this target itinerary...

m/v Plancius

m/v Plancius

Cruise date:

20 Nov - 30 Nov, 2019

Price:

on request

Falkland Islands - South Georgia - Antarctic Peninsula

Meet at least six penguin species

PLA24-19. This Falkland Islands, South Georgia, and Antarctic Peninsula cruise is an animal-lover’s dream come true. The expedition explores one of the last untamed areas on Earth – a land of ruggedly beautiful landscapes and amazingly varied wildlife.

m/v Plancius

m/v Plancius

Cruise date:

30 Nov - 18 Dec, 2019

Price:

12750 USD

Antarctica - Discovery and learning voyage

The 'Classic Antarctic' route

HDS23-19. This cruise delivers you to wondrous landscapes found in one of the harshest environments on Earth. The great star-actors of Antarctica are the penguins and in total seven species could appear before your very own eyes. Including photo workshops with Neill Drake and video workshops with George Kenne...

m/v Hondius

m/v Hondius

Cruise date:

2 Dec - 11 Dec, 2019

Price:

on request

Antarctica - Basecamp

The best activity voyage in Antarctica

OTL24-19. The Antarctic Peninsula Basecamp cruise offers you a myriad of ways to explore and enjoy the Antarctic Region. This expedition allows you to hike, snowshoe, kayak, go mountaineering, and even camp out under the Southern Polar skies.

m/v Ortelius

m/v Ortelius

Cruise date:

5 Dec - 16 Dec, 2019

Price:

7950 USD

Antarctica - Discovery and learning voyage

The 'Classic Antarctic' route

HDS24-19. The 'Classic Antarctic' route. This cruise delivers you to wondrous landscapes found in one of the harshest environments on Earth. The great star-actors of Antarctica are the penguins and in total seven species could appear before your very own eyes. Including photo workshops with Neill Drake and vi...

m/v Hondius

m/v Hondius

Cruise date:

11 Dec - 20 Dec, 2019

Price:

6500 USD