Regulations of Canary Islands

Canary Islands Whale Watching Regulations


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In 1996 the Canaries Government released regulations for the growing whale watching tourism. These regulations were revised in 2002. Following is the text of Annex I of the 2002 regulations, representing the Code of Conduct which is effective to date:


ANNEX I: Code of Conduct

A) Basic obligations:

Do not intercept the trajectory of the animals.
Do not separate or disperse the groups of animals being observed, especially when a mother and calf are involved
avoid the simultaneous presence of more than 3 vessels at a distance less than 200 meters from a cetacean or group of cetaceans
Maintain a distance of at least 60 meters from the animals except in
situations of emergency or under express authorization
Do not swim or dive deliberately in the proximity of the animals, without express permission
Do not throw food or waste in the proximity of the animals


B) Methods of approach:

When a vessel is within 300 meters of cetaceans it must move at a slow speed, not more rapidly that the slowest moving animal of the group.
Approaches to cetaceans must be made gently, converging in the direction that the animals themselves are following.
Approaches must never be made head on, always allowing for the movement of the cetaceans in any direction.
During the observation a parallel trajectory to the animal, must always be attempted to be maintained.
Avoid in all cases abrupt changes in direction or velocity.
Put the motor on idle, at least one minute before turning it off if the vessels stops in order to observe cetaceans.  The same is to be done if an animal approaches the vessel.
Do not start the motor, or increase speed, if an animal is found within 60 meters of the boat.


C) Behaviour with Cetaceans:

Abandon the zone if any sign of alarm, change or stress such as abrupt changes in direction or speed, successive dives or exhaling air under water is shown by the animals.
Avoid noises that could bother the animals, as well as emitting sounds to attract them.
Advise authorities of your location in the case of an accidental injury to a cetacean.  Do the same in the event of observing a dead floating cetacean.
If two or more vessels approach the same individual or groups, they must
communicate amongst themselves in order to coordinate the approaches and maneuvers in a way to minimise repercussions to the animals.


Source: CARLSON, C. (2004): A review of whale-watching regulations around the world – version 2004. Yarmouth Port.