The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Patrick Ramage (IFAW) at the IWC meeting
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New Report Documents Massive Growth in Whale Watching

MADEIRA, Portugal

A new report released today by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW -- documents massive growth in the global whale watching industry over the past decade. The new report, Whale Watching Worldwide, comes as more than 80 countries debate the future of whaling and whale conservation at the 61st annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in Madeira, Portugal.

The new, country-by-country economic analysis shows more than 13 million people took whale watching tours last year in 119 countries worldwide, generating ticket fees and tourism expenditures of more than US$2.1 billion during 2008. The report also shows dramatic growth of the whale watching industry in Asia, the Pacific, South America, the Caribbean and Europe significantly outpacing global tourism growth rates over the past decade. More than 3,000 whale watching operations around the world now employ an estimated 13,200 people. International research, data collection and analysis for the IFAW report were conducted over the past eighteen months by Economists at Large and Associates of Melbourne, Australia.

Australian Minister for the Environment, Peter Garrett, welcomed the new report which Australia is formally introducing to government delegations attending the Madeira IWC meeting. "I commend IFAW for producing this very timely report. At a time when our global economy, our planet's great whales and international whale conservation efforts are all under threat, it is encouraging to see coastal communities across Australia, the Asia Pacific region and worldwide reaping massive benefits from the dynamic growth of this form of ecotourism," he said. "The bottom line is clear. Whales are worth much more alive than dead," said Garrett. "Responsible whale watching is the most sustainable, environmentally-friendly and economically beneficial "use" of whales in the 21st century."

"While governments debate what to do about whales, their citizens are pointing the way," said Patrick Ramage, IFAW Whale Program Director. "We should be conserving whales in 2009 and shooting them with cameras, not compromising conservation measures and expanding commercial whaling. "Animals, people and the global economy all do better when whales are seen and not hurt."

The International Fund for Animal Welfare works to improve animal welfare, prevent animal cruelty and abuse, protect wildlife and provide animal rescue around the world. From stopping the elephant ivory trade, to ending the Canadian seal hunt and saving the whales from extinction, IFAW works to create solutions that benefit both animals and people.