Subject: whalewatching and effects on whales (fwd)

Mike Williamson (
Thu, 24 Sep 1998 08:53:13 -0400 (EDT)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 22 Sep 1998 20:12:13 -0700
From: MARMAM Editors <marmamed@UVic.CA>
Reply-To: Marine Mammals Research and Conservation Discussion
Subject: Re: newsclip - whalewatching and effects on whales (fwd)

Forwarded message:

I organized my first whale watch excursions in 1978, and took my first boat
load of passengers to Stellwagen Bank in 1979.  I have not missed a season
since.  That gives me a fairly decent historical perspective on the New
England whale watching industry.

Since the mid-1980s, the numbers of whale watching vessels using the Bank, as
well as the sizes and speeds of those vessels, have not appreciably changed.
If a whale watch vessel strikes a whale, there will be a rapid and predictable
reaction.  Most whale watch vessels carry 100-200 passengers.  Obviously then,
news of the strike will not be a secret, and may be in the media even before
the vessel reaches its dock. That probably would not be the case with most
other vessels.  Speed limits on all vessels, no matter how tantalizing and
well meaning that may be, are pointless without enforcement.  And everyone who
actually spends time on Stellwagen Bank knows that the idea is pointless.

Nina Young may suggest revisiting the issue of regulations. I suggest that
Ms.Young visit Stellwagen Bank.  The diversity and numbers of vessels
traversing Stellwagen Bank, day and night, day after day, month after month,
traveling at various speeds is uncontrollable.  Whale watch vessels are an
easy, attractive and pointless target.  Regulatory zealots, in search of a
grand headline, may relish regulating 15-20 whale watch boats, and then leave
untouched the tankers, freighters, tugs and barges, countless private boats,
sportfishing boats, cigarette boats, commercial fishing boats, cruise ships,
naval armadas, container vessels, etc., etc., ad nauseum, that we, who
actually spend time on the Bank, observe on a daily basis.

If someone actually has an inclusive, funded and practical program, I believe
that we would all like to see it.

Scott Mercer, New England Whale Watch, Inc.

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