Save our whales Regulate whale watching boats

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By 2017-10-18

By Cassendra Doole

One of the ways to protect whales is to reduce the number of unregulated whale watching boats especially in the Mirissa area, and not moving the traffic separation zones further away as some environmentalists claim, the National Fisheries Federation said yesterday (16).

Speaking to Ceylon Today, the advisor to the State Minister of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development and Vice Chairperson of National Fisheries Federation Ayesh Ranawake said yesterday that the only viable solution to the whales being caught in the traffic separation zone is to regulate whale watching.

"We have currently invaded the whales' turf and pushed these whales in to the middle of traffic," Ranawake said, adding "Moving the traffic lanes further away is not a plausible option. Instead, we must appoint a proper regulatory commission and regulate the Whale Watching in Mirissa."

This comment comes in the wake of various NGOs urging the World Shipping Council to move the traffic separation zone in order to avoid hitting whales.

Different species of whales including Pygmy Blue Whales feed and breed in the area of the Indian Ocean just south of Sri Lanka.

According to Ranawake, these whales were not initially in the direct path of the shipping lanes. "The surmounting number of unregulated boats out in the sea for the purpose of whale watching is the main cause for the whales to move further away, putting them in the direct path of the traffic separation zone," Ranawake said.

According to "Friend of the Sea" Organisation an estimate of 50 to 100 whales are struck to death by these vessels each year.

"It is devastating to see dead whales that are more often carried on the bows of the vessels or finding whale carcasses floating or stranded with evidence of having been struck by cargo ships," Ranawake said, adding, "The reason this has happened is because unregulated Commercial Whale Watching has resulted in chasing the whales away from their turf."

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