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Guidelines

whale watching Fredrik BromsA growing number of companies have set up whalewatching operations over the past few years in Northern Norway. Photograph: Fredrik BromsWith the arrival of large numbers of whales into easily accessible fjords, a growing number of companies have set up whalewatching operations over the past few years. Since the fjord systems are well protected from prevailing winds, local residents also use their own private boats or kayaks to approach the whales. There is now a growing need to set up a set of guidelines and recommendations that private and commercial operators should strive to follow. Such guidelines and recommendations should aim to:

1. Minimise the disturbance to whales by providing recommendations on closest approach, approach speed, approach angle relative to the whales, maximum number of vessels around an individual or group.

2. Minimise the risk to whalewatchers by providing safety regulations for commercial operators and recommendations for private operators.

3. Make the whalewatching experience as rewarding as possible by preventing crowding by vessels in limited areas and around a small number of whales.

Other international guidelines for whale watching provide examples of good practice:

NOAA Marine Mammal Program » Whale Watching Guidelines