Managing the swimming-with-dwarf minke whales tourism industry in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park: developing collaboration between managers, industry and researchers

Birtles, A., Valentine, P.S., Curnock, M., Mangott, A., and Sobtzick, S. (2008) Managing the swimming-with-dwarf minke whales tourism industry in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park: developing collaboration between managers, industry and researchers. In: Proceedings of Australian Protected Areas Congress 2008. pp. 190-192. From: Australian Protected Areas Congress 2008, 24-28 November 2008, Sunshine Coast, QLD, Australia.

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Each austral winter a unique aggregation of an undescribed subspecies of whale occurs at the edge of the east Australian continental shelf in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (GBRMP). The occurrence of these whales, now recognised as dwarf minkes (Balaenoptera acutorostrata subspecies), in remote offshore areas of the GBRMP to the north of Cairns, was first documented in the 1980s via reports from an emerging scuba dive tourism industry. Increasing reports during the early 1990s revealed that in-water interactions were occurring between these whales and scuba divers at sites along the Ribbon Reefs, and that the interactions appeared to be initiated and voluntarity maintained by the whales. In 1996, researchers began working with dive tour operators to study this little known whale, as well as the interactions between whales and swimmers to ensure that the interactions were not harmful to the whales. Due to the remoteness of the interactions and the infrequency of an enforcement presence, a voluntary Code of Practice for managing the whale-swimmer interactions was developed in 1999 to assist the industry to self-regulate and minimise its potential impacts on the whales. In the same year annual workshops commenced involving dive tourism operators, GBRMP managers and researchers, to review research findings and discuss management issues associated with a growing swim-with-whales tourism industry. In 2003 the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority capped the industry and issued special permits to nine tourism operators, effectively establishing the world’s first fully-permitted swimming-with-whales tourism industry. A six-year research and monitoring program commenced in 2003, with bi-annual workshops held to review findings and address management concerns, involving all key stakeholders. This paper examines the key processes and drivers affecting the development of this unique collaborative management model and evaluates current and future challenges for the sustainable management of this swimming-with-whales tourism industry.

Item ID: 10508
Item Type: Conference Item (Abstract / Summary)
ISBN: 978-0-646-50733-0
Keywords: tourism management; collaboration; swim-with whales industry
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Date Deposited: 20 Sep 2010 23:30
FoR Codes: 15 COMMERCE, MANAGEMENT, TOURISM AND SERVICES > 1506 Tourism > 150603 Tourism Management @ 50%
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1605 Policy and Administration > 160513 Tourism Policy @ 50%
SEO Codes: 90 COMMERCIAL SERVICES AND TOURISM > 9003 Tourism > 900399 Tourism not elsewhere classified @ 80%
91 ECONOMIC FRAMEWORK > 9104 Management and Productivity > 910402 Management @ 20%
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