Whale Heritage Trail in the Pacific islands at core of new partnership agreement

A new partnership was formed between the World Cetacean Alliance (WCA) and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on the opening of the Twenty-Sixth Meeting of Officials in Apia.

The WCA is an alliance of 70 partners, those being non-profit whale and dolphin tour operators and individuals across 35 different countries.

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L – R Ms. Natalie Barefoot of the World Cetacean Alliance signing the Memorandum of Understanding with Mr. David Sheppard of SPREP

Through cooperation, the Partners of the World Cetacean Alliance aim to conserve and protect cetaceans and their habitats in the world's oceans, seas and rivers, to ensure their continued health and survival.

In 2016 SPREP, Pacific island governments and partners will launch a regional campaign to strengthen whale conservation.

"We are really delighted to be partnering with the WCA and we look forward to our cooperative programs both this year and next year as we move forward," said Mr. David Sheppard, Director General of SPREP.

Ms. Natalie Barefoot of the WCA expressed her deep gratitude to SPREP for its' commitment to whales.

"Whales indicate to us when there are issues with our ocean environments. As ecotourism grows, tour operators will become increasingly dependent on them, yet at the same time human activities are having a greater impact on whales. Whale Heritage Sites will recognise those destinations that maintain sustainable livelihoods for people while actively protecting, respecting and celebrating whales. We thank SPREP for its support as we collaboratively undertake this work," said Ms. Barefoot.

Through this Memorandum of Understanding, SPREP and the WCA will be working together to establish a Whale Heritage Trail in the Pacific islands with several potential Whale Heritage Sites that meet the accreditation standards under development.

This year the Twenty-Sixth SPREP Meeting of Officials is from 22 – 24 September at the Tanoa Tusitala Hotel

The 21 Pacific island countries and territories that are members of SPREP are: American Samoa, Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Caledonia, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Wallis and Futuna.

The 5 Metropolitan members of SPREP are: Australia, France, New Zealand, United Kingdom and the United States of America.

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