A peer-reviewed study of whale tourism’s global value boosts economic arguments that the marine mammals are worth more alive than dead.
The vast sum of money spent to watch them is more than sufficient in the interest alone to sustainably replenish and restore whale ocean pastures and whales to historic health and abundance.
Whale watching is a growth industry, growing by at least 10% each year.
Tragically the whales are not the beneficiaries of those billions.
The study from 2010 coincided with a decision by the 88-nation International Whaling Commission meeting in Agadir, Morocco, to move forward with a “five year strategic plan” to explore both the economic benefits and ecological risks of whale watching.
Millions of eco-tourists in gladly pay richly to see the animals in their natural element, generating $2.4 billion and employing 13,000 people across hundreds of coastal regions worldwide, the study found.
In Australia’s whale watching industry earned $31 million in direct revenue in 2008, attracting 1.6 million people, according to Australian government figures.
“We can have our whales and still benefit from them, without killing them,” said co-author Rashid Sumaila, a researcher at the University of British Columbia.
Whale tourism has expanded steadily over the last two decades. Continuing at the same pace would add more than $460 million and 5,700 jobs to the global economy each year, said the study, published in the Britain-based journal Marine Policy. At least half of this growth benefits seaside communities in developing countries, especially in the Caribbean, Latin America and Africa, where traditional fisheries are in collapse.
“It can be launched with little initial investment and carried out by local fishers who are already familiar with the area,” the study noted.
Whaling countries have argued that watching whales and killing them are not necessarily incompatible when populations are robust and expanding. The study found that every year half-a-million people ply the coastal waters of each and every one of the whaling nations in the hope of glimpsing a living whale.
We can and therefore we MUST restore their ocean pastures to save them
In 2012 with a small band of native people I took on the task of restoring a vast ocean pasture in the Gulf of Alaska. That ocean was becoming an ever more clear blue lifeless ocean desert. It had the capacity to bloom like the Garden of Eden but something was missing.
I knew from a lesson taught by Mother Nature what was missing. Four times in the past century Mother Nature has taught the lesson. When her volcanoes in the remote Aleutian Islands erupted with massive plumes of mineral rich volcanic ash. And when those eruptions and that ash happened to be carried by the wind to exactly the right part of the downwind ocean, aka the Gulf of Alaska. And when that dusting of the ocean happened at just the right time of year, aka the summer growing season. Mother Nature’s ocean pastures bloomed in spectacular abundance.
How do we know? Hundreds of millions of salmon scientists, schooled by Mother Nature, swam home to us to tell us all about the miracle of ocean life. Following in the footsteps of Mother Nature with eleven shipmates I became the ‘volcano’ and took the right dust, to the right place, at the right time and together we restored the ocean pasture to life. We brought the fish back but even more we experienced one of the greatest gatherings of whales ever witnessed on this blue planet.
Or you can click to watch and listen to this music video I made with my friends after my muse put the song into my brain as an incurable ‘ear worm.’
We can afford to restore the ocean pastures.
To gain a further understanding of what I did and how the interest alone on just one year’s worth of billions today spent to enjoy watching whales realize that my dust for the ocean to restore it’s precious and vital whale pastures cost just $70,000! Of course the required high caliber ocean science we performed with the active participation and funding of many Ministries of the Government of Canada, British Columbia, and the First Nations to say nothing of international scientific groups who participate added a couple million to the cost of this work.
That’s just the paid part of the job which does not include the many years of unpaid work it took to get the project approval through countless government approvals before, during, and after but hey who’s counting.
Do the math. The interest on $2.4 billion invested in typical environmental endowments would easily generate more than $100 million each and every year and the endowment principal would never be touched.
Here’s how it worked!
I’ve done a life’s work of ecorestoration for many years, going on five decades, but my best work was done in 2012 when with 11 native friends, my dirty dozen, we dusted 10,000 sq. kilometers of the Gulf of Alaska in our ‘salmon restoration’ effort. There is good news to come so do read on, some wonderful happened.
It just worked as the image for this post reveals.
In our distant patch of North Pacific we weathered vicious 80+ mph winds, hurricane force, with waves blasting over the top of our 130 ft fishing/research ship.
Noone escaped seasickness, some worse than others as our cook was so ill we had to evacuate her to hospital. But we persevered and over the course of weeks hefted/man-handled 4000 50 lb bags of life-giving mineral deck from the holds of the ship to give dust back to the ocean to replenish and restore all of ocean life, from the bottom up.
Oh, yeah… the fish came back too!