World Whale Heritage status declared for Hervey Bay!
Hervey Bay has today been announced as the first Whale Heritage Site in the world, declared by the World Cetacean Alliance at its international conference in Hervey Bay.
The annoucement was made by WCA founding partner Clive Martin at the 2019 World Whale Conference being attended by more than 100 conservationists, scientists and whale watch operators from around the globe.
Mr Martin also announced the whale watching centre of Bluff, in Durban, South Africa, as the second accredited site.
The World Heritage Site accreditation scheme was initiated by the WCA in 2016 to recognise the best global destinations for responsible whale and dolphin watching.
To qualify, a Whale Heritage site has to show active engagement by their communities and tourists with marine life through art, music, science, education and celebratory events, while at the same time recognise the culture and heritage surrounding cetaceans in the local habitat.
Fraser Coast Mayor George Seymour said Hervey Bay's recognition as the world's first Whale Heritage Site was a significant coup that would turbocharge the tourism industry and inject millions of dollars into the region's economy.
"Whale watching in Hervey Bay offers a magical and unforgettable experience as it is the only place on the east coast of Australia where these gentle giants stay and play during their annual migration," he said.
"Hervey Bay was the first region in Australia to offer commercial whale watching experiences from boats more than 30 years ago and our whale fleet has played a major role in protecting the whale's environment, and working with scientists, conservationists and all levels of government."
"We thank the World Cetacean Alliance for recognising that Hervey Bay is a globally unique location with a community that is committed to celebrating and providing sustainable and responsible whale watching experiences.
"This Whale Heritage Site accreditation complements the region's other great icon, World Heritage-listed K'gari (Fraser Island), and gives us a fantastic opportunity to market to the world why the Fraser Coast region is so special and unique.
"Hosting the World Whale Conference in Hervey Bay this week has been a wonderful boost for our town, and this announcement today is the icing on the cake that will benefit our region for years to come."
Fraser Coast Tourism & Events began Hervey Bay's WHS application process in 2016 and in the last four months intensified this work with the support of local whale watching operators and researchers to present the most compelling case on behalf of local industry and the region.
"Our application ran to more than 300 pages of evidence to prove our case in a very rigorous application process," said FCTE General Manager Martin Simons.
Hervey Bay was competing with five other candidate sites from all over the world, including Vancouver Island North; Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand; Mosaic Jurubatiba, Brazil; Durban, South Africa and Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica.
"We were very fortunate to be able to showcase the work carried out in the early stages of the development of the Hervey Bay whale watching industry when scientists, conservationists and whale watch operators worked with the then National Parks and Wildlife Service to set up the Hervey Bay Marine Park and a whale watching Code of Practice, which has stood the test of time and been copied around the world.
"The research work of Trish and Wally Franklin and the Pacific Whcale Foundation was also very helpful in proving our links to research and education, raising cetacean awareness," he said.
Successful WHS sites have to meet five criteria in the engagement with cetaceans, including:
- Encouraging respectful co-existence;
- Adopting practices that support environmental, social and economic sustainability;
- Celebrating cetaceans through events;
- Developing research and educations awareness, and;
- Involving local community
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