Key steps towards adaptive management of a whalewatching industry: developing sustainability objectives and indicators for the swimming-with-dwarf minke whales activity in the Great Barrier Reef.

Curnock, Matthew, Birtles, Alastair, and Valentine, Peter (2009) Key steps towards adaptive management of a whalewatching industry: developing sustainability objectives and indicators for the swimming-with-dwarf minke whales activity in the Great Barrier Reef. In: 18th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals, p. 1. From: 18th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals, 12-16 October 2009, Quebec. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

An Australian Government sanctioned swimming-with-whales tourism industry has developed in the northern Great Barrier Reef (GBR) based on the austral winter migration of dwarf minke whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata subsp.). The cumulative impacts of this growing tourism activity are uncertain and there are widespread concerns about the sustainability of swim-with-cetaceans programs. The geographic remoteness of these interactions in the GBR poses additional challenges for monitoring the activity. Effective evaluation of sustainability requires the long-term monitoring of key indicators, matched to clearly defined objectives, which are agreed by all stakeholders within a collaborative and transparent management framework. Adopting a ‘sustainability science’ approach, this study utilised a mixed methodology to develop a framework for monitoring this activity in the GBR. Principles of Participatory Action Research were employed to engage key stakeholders (including tourism operators, government management agency staff, cetacean scientists and representatives of wildlife conservation NGOs) in an iterative, three-step process to develop species, location and industry-specific sustainability objectives. First, a suite of Quadruple-Bottom-Line sustainability objectives was developed based on relevant literature and with input from cetacean scientists, encompassing ecological, social, economic and management goals. Sixteen stakeholder key informants were then interviewed to refine the objectives and explore issues relating to their implementation. The objectives were subsequently reviewed and fine-tuned in a series of facilitated stakeholder workshops, with 37 out of a total 39 objectives being formally adopted by workshop participants. Concurrent to this process, a range of potential indicators were evaluated using industry and researcher-generated data. This paper critically evaluates the process followed, highlighting factors contributing to its achievements and shortcomings. Future steps and issues affecting the implementation of the monitoring framework are discussed. A Swimming-with-Whales Adaptive Management Model (SWAMM) is proposed that is intended to assist stakeholders in the ongoing assessment and management of this activity.

Item ID: 24904
Item Type: Conference Item (Poster)
Date Deposited: 08 Feb 2013 05:31
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050211 Wildlife and Habitat Management @ 33%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050204 Environmental Impact Assessment @ 33%
15 COMMERCE, MANAGEMENT, TOURISM AND SERVICES > 1506 Tourism > 150601 Impacts of Tourism @ 34%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 33%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9606 Environmental and Natural Resource Evaluation > 960609 Sustainability Indicators @ 34%
90 COMMERCIAL SERVICES AND TOURISM > 9003 Tourism > 900399 Tourism not elsewhere classified @ 33%
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