Whale Watching in the Southern Ocean
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree LevelPostgraduate Certificate
Degree NamePostgraduate Certificate in Antarctic Studies
Whale watching is regulated by the International Whaling Commission (IWC). Although reasonably productive, the bipolar nature of the organisation and the inherent association with non-lethal utilization with the anti-whaling lobby means regulation is required elsewhere to be truly effective. The need for regulation is clear, studies have shown approach behaviour, sounds made, duration of stay, and position in relation to other vessels, habituation responses, and many other factors can lead to negative consequences for cetaceans. The Southern Ocean is deemed particularly vulnerable, due to its central role in a large percentage of whale lifecycles and it has been made a sanctuary under the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW). However, there is no regulation applicable to the area other than the industry guidelines. Although more stringent than the ideal guidelines set down by the IWC and New Zealand’s Marine Mammal Protection Regulations 1992, the significant expansion of the industry will not be conducive to keeping with its broad environmental goals. Under the Antarctic Treaty System, the Environmental Impact Analysis under the Environmental Protocol could be invoked. However, it is not an effective tool to use for the nature of whaling operations. Instead, a new instrument is proposed to regulate the growing tourist numbers with an Annex relevant to whale watching. More liberal powers of discussion and debate should be employed to allow the debate of the true political motives underlying decisions based on scientific uncertainty.