Friend of the Sea Certifies Its First Sustainable Dolphin and Whale Watching Tour Operator in New Zealand

Friend of the Sea Certifies Its First Sustainable Dolphin and Whale Watching Tour Operator in New Zealand

Kaikoura Kayaks certified for sustainable practices that protect fur seals as well as dolphins and whales

Friend of the Sea, the leading worldwide certification standard for products and services that respect and protect the marine environment, announced today that it has certified Kaikoura Kayaks of New Zealand for its program for Sustainable Dolphin and Whale Watching. Kaikoura Kayaks is the first such operation to be certified in New Zealand. It’s also the first kayak operator ever certified by Friend of the Sea. With this certification, Friend of the Sea is helping protect dolphins in their natural habitat while spreading valuable information about the issue of sustainability in marine wildlife.

“We are truly impressed by Kaikoura Kayaks’ dedication to sustainability,” said Paolo Bray, Director of Friend of the Sea. “While kayaks are generally lower in impact on wildlife than motorized boats, any human contact with marine animals can have a negative effect if it’s not carefully controlled.”

Kaikoura Kayaks is mostly involved in viewing New Zealand fur seal/kekeno (Arctocephalus forsteri) and has many chance encounters with the Dusky dolphin (Lagenorhynchus obscurus). Occasionally their kayak tours spot Hector dolphins (Cephalorhynchus hectori) and humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae). In very rare circumstances, kayakers can see a killer whale (Orcinus orca) or the huge blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus). “Protecting seals is significant, ” Bray added. “It’s not just cetaceans that are at risk today.”

“This is a real honor,” said Matt Foy, Partner of Kaikoura Kayaks. “We’re proud to display the Friend of the Sea emblem on our website and to be recognized for our commitment towards sustainability in our business”. The company also has certifications for sustainable tourism and safety practices. The Friend of the Sea standard seeks to minimize unintentional disturbance to the dolphins’ habitat by setting a maximum number of vessels in the area at any one time.

The standard also sets limits on maximum approach speed and distance between the boats and the dolphins. At the same, it prohibits swimming with the animals and the use of mono-use plastics on board the tour boats. Customers can interact with Friend of the Sea, giving feedback on the tour.