September 4, 2009
Costa Rican Whale Watching Industry Celebrates First Whale and Dolphin Festival
SAN JOSÉ — To promote whale and dolphin conservation as well as responsible ecotourism, Humane Society International will participate in the First Costa Rican Whale and Dolphin Festival at the Costa Rican Pacific locality of Bahía Uvita Sept. 4-6. HSI is a member of the Costa Rican Whale Coalition, which organized the event.
"The goal of this festival is to continue to increase the level of preparedness of tour operators and to guarantee the economic sustainability of whale watching activities, as well as to engage the general public about the importance of protecting these animals," said Jennifer Dinsmore, director of HSI Latin America.
Responsible whale and dolphin watching provides humane, sustainable and economically viable alternatives for coastal communities faced with the decline of small-scale fisheries due to over-fishing. According to a recent study, 12,592 tourists visited the park to take part on whale watching tours in 2007, generating $755,520 from ticket purchases.
This festival will feature cultural activities, concerts, tours of the park, informational stands from various organizations and whale watching tours. Management of Parque Nacional Marino Ballena and the Asociación de Operadores de Turismo en el Parque Nacional Marino Ballena de Osa with support from the Coalición Costarricense por las Ballenas also organized the event.
HSI will also help finance the event and staff the coalition's information booth.
- Parque Nacional Marino Ballena was created in 1987 to protect reproduction sites of the humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) as well as coral reefs. In addition to whales, bottlenose (Tursiops truncatus) and spotted (Stenella attenuata) dolphins are commonly seen there. The park is also home to many other species of wildlife such as the queen conch (Strombus gigas), the brown booby (Sula leucogaster), the brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentales) and the magnificent frigatebird (Fregata magnifiscens).
- Parque Nacional Marino Ballena currently sustains a thriving marine tourism industry centered on whale and dolphin watching. In Costa Rica, whale and dolphin watching generates more than $5 million of direct revenue annually as a result of more than 105,000 visitors.
- In 1946, the International Whaling Commission established rules to conserve whale populations and to regulate whaling. In 1986, the IWC implemented a moratorium on commercial whaling. Despite this ban, the countries of Japan, Norway and Iceland continue to kill whales for commercial purposes.
- The Coalición Costarricense por las Ballenas, created in 2006 with the goal of lobbying for the return of Costa Rica to the IWC, currently includes 15 international and local organizations and more than 1,000 individuals through an Internet network. Following a 23-year absence, Costa Rica rejoined the Commission in 2007. HSI – Latin America is a member of the Coalición Costarricense por las Ballenas and actively participates in its activities.
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Humane Society International is the international arm of The Humane Society of the United States, the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at hsi.org.