“All the certifications that we have, all the signs that we can give internationally for the sustainability and the value of the activity here end up being reflected positively, either in the activity or in the region itself”, explained José Azevedo, one of the promoters of the application. for this certification, granted by the World Cetacean Alliance.
The nomination, prepared since 2015, comes from a group of volunteers, from scientists from the University of the Azores to businessmen linked to whale watching and other tourist activities, as well as municipalities.
According to José Azevedo, the application should be submitted “by the end of the year” and the Azores have a good chance of receiving this certification.
“Whale watching in the Azores is an example on a global level”, he stressed.
The biologist pointed out that the activity has been regulated since its beginnings, in a collaboration between businessmen and scientists, which has always involved a “sustainability concern”.
The certification “will strengthen the sustainability and quality of the whale watching experience in the Azores”, as well as the promotion of the archipelago as a sustainable destination, argued the researcher from the University of the Azores.
On the other hand, the application “is associated with a continuous process of verification of the maintenance of the initial conditions”, which implies a commitment so that this durability is maintained in the future.
José Azevedo admitted the need to follow the evolution of activity in the Azores, but said that the regulations have always been based on a dialogue between businessmen and scientists.
“Initially, whale watching was done in RIB waters. These RIB boats have since grown in size and now some companies have moved to a new system of larger boats that take on more people. has issues, in terms of regulations, that need to be adjusted,” he said.
The regulatory review process is “already underway” and the researcher believes that whale watching still has growth potential in the Azores.
“We want to encourage other islands that also have whale-watching activities, we want to regulate the issue of boats, iron out certain problems related to the evolution of the market. There is work that has already been done, based on a lot participation,” he revealed.
For José Azevedo, the certification will also be a “stimulus” to “deepen the relationship of the Azores and Azoreans with cetaceans, as living beings and as part of a dynamic ocean ecosystem”.
Whaling, banned since 1984, had a great weight in the Azorean economy and whale watching brought a new “paradigm”.
The promoters will collect “contributions and ideas” for this deepening of the relationship of the Azoreans with whale watching, during a meeting at the University of the Azores, in Ponta Delgada, on Saturday, where the candidacy to become a ” Whale Heritage Site” will be disclosed to the public.