Friend of the Sea and R&E Ocean Community Conservation Foundation Team Up for Sustainable Dolphin and Whale Watching Programs

Friend of the Sea and R&E Ocean Community Conservation Foundation Team Up for Sustainable Dolphin and Whale Watching Programs

Joint project in Colombia promotes sustainable whale watching that stimulates the local economy

Friend of the Sea, the leading global certification standard for products and services that respect and protect the marine environment, announced today it is collaborating with R&E Ocean Community Conservation Foundation to develop sustainable dolphin and whale watching programs for scientific groups in Colombia. The programs promote sustainability while also supporting local communities and local tour operators in Colombia that facilitate the expeditions.

“This is an innovative program, one that we hope will be repeated else where,” said Paolo Bray, Director of Friend of the Sea. “Sustainability and sustainable economic development must go hand in hand. If people perceive sustainability as a zero-sum game, where a gain for sustainability is a loss for the local economy, we’re going to have a lot of trouble. The work we’re doing with R&E exemplifies a win-win approach on this issue.”

The R&E Ocean Community Conservation Foundation’s mission is to research, preserve and care for vulnerable marine environments and their species. They accomplish these goals by providing communities with knowledge, training and tools for conservation, protection and economic growth. The organization’s approach blends the formation of sustainable habitats with strong community development.

The programs being developed jointly by Friend of the Sea and R&E will enable scientists, eco-tourists, students and volunteers to observe humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae), bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), pantropical spotted dolphins (Stenella attenuata) and rough-toothed dolphins (Steno bredanensis) in the waters of Colombia from mid-June to mid-October.           

“R&E Ocean Community Conservation is very happy to partner with Friend of the Sea.” said Ann Carole Vallejo, Executive Director and Lead Researcher “We hope to develop and achieve together responsable and sustainable community-oriented whale watching in Choco, Colombia. With this framework we would like to encourage the conservation and management for human interactions with marine mammals.”

Friend of the Sea is applying its Dolphin and Whale Watching standard for Scientific Groups to this joint project. The standard has the goal of minimizing unintentional disturbance to dolphins and whales, along with their respective habitats, through key principles of conduct. These include setting a maximum number of vessels in the watching zone, moderating approach distance,conducting training programs for operators and crew and collecting scientific data. The standard also forbids swimming with the animals and using mono-use plastics.