Review decision July 2012
A Department of Conservation review of permitting of commercial viewing of sperm whales off Kaikoura has decided not to allow any new whale watching tours at this time but additional aircraft may be permitted in the future.
A 10-year suspension of new permits for commercial sperm whale watching off Kaikoura has been declared.
Additional permits for commercial aircraft viewing could be considered within that period if a change was made to the 1992 Marine Mammals Protection Regulations. That change would be to exclude aircraft from the rule allowing no more than three vessels at a time, aircraft or boats, to view a whale or pod of whales.
The review decisions were made in the interests of the sperm whales. They took into account scientific research into the impacts of commercial tour activity on the sperm whales, comments and information in 12 public submissions, and the requirements of the Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978 and its regulations.
The review of Kaikoura sperm whale tourism took place ahead of the expiry of a previous 10-year suspension of new permits for commercial whale watching put in place in 2002.
About the review
The Department of Conservation (DOC) is carrying out a review of permitting of commercial whale watching off Kaikoura ahead of the expiry of a 10-year suspension of new permits for the activity.
Written public comments are currently being sought for this review that will determine how commercial whale watching off Kaikoura is to be managed in the interests of the sperm whales, including the level of permitted tour activity.
An international team of marine mammal experts has carried out a comprehensive two-year investigation for DOC on the impacts of commercial whale watching on Kaikoura’s sperm whales for this review. You can view on this page their research report and a report on DOC’s preliminary findings and draft recommendations to provide comments on.
Public comments will be taken into account in preparing a final report and recommendations for decisions. Review decisions will also take into account the scientific research and the requirements of the Marine Mammals Protection Act and its Regulations.
The suspension of new permits for Kaikoura commercial whale watching expires on 1 August 2012. It has been extended from its original expiry date of 30 May 2012 to allow more time for the review.
Submit your comments
Written comments may be posted to:
Kaikoura sperm whale tourism review
Department of Conservation
Private Bag 5
Or emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Submit your comments by 4pm Friday 11 May 2012.
(Note the closure date for comments has been extended by two weeks from 27 April 2012).
For further information, please contact Bev Freer or Paul Thornton at Nelson Marlborough Conservancy Office, ph: +64 3 546 9335.
DOC's preliminary findings and draft recommendations
Sperm whale watching review, Kaikoura (PDF, 336K)
Effects of tourism on the behaviour of sperm whales inhabiting the Kaikoura Canyon (PDF, 5,614K)
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