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Madeira Whale Heritage Area
Madeira Island

Madeira Whale Heritage Area

Information

Boat-based wildlife tours
Visitor centres or museums
Visual or performance art
Visual or performance art

Description

Also known as “the flower island”, Madeira Island lies between the Azores and the Canaries in the North Atlantic and is the main island of an archipelago that also includes the uninhabited Desertas and Selvagens Islands, both natural protected areas for a variety of marine life. The Selvagens Islands are the largest current marine protected area (MPA) of the North Atlantic and Porto Santo, the archipelago’s second largest island, was designated a UNESCO biosphere reserve in 2020. Apart from further MPAs including Garajau, Ponta Sao Lourenco and Ponta do Pargo, Madeira also possesses a network of terrestrial protected areas, including the 27,000 hectare natural park that encompasses the largest surviving area of primary laurel forest, the Laurisilva forest. 

Research from the last two decades has highlighted Madeira as an important habitat within a larger home range for several cetacean species as well as an important pitstop for migratory species. 26 species of cetaceans have been registered in Madeira. This makes cetaceans an intricate part of Madeira’s natural heritage and, although the local community celebrates their presence through artworks and educational programmes, the presence and diversity of cetaceans in the region is still quite unknown to many residents on the island. Madeira has a strong bond with whales, from their whaling past to the present whale watching activities and the ongoing cetacean conservation efforts, led by the local authorities, scientific institutions and local stakeholders. In 2016, an MPA under the EC Habitat Directive, the SIC Cetaceos, was created specifically to safeguard the cetacean populations around Madeira and other cetaceans and marine species, such as the loggerhead turtle and the Mediterranean monk seal.

The Whale Heritage Area encompasses the land as well as the territorial waters of the entire archipelago (Madeira Island, Desertas Islands, Porto Santo and Selvagens Islands).

Motivation

Firstly, a WHA designation will accredit the region's past and present efforts to safeguard the cetacean populations visiting the islands waters. Such recognition will cement the position of cetaceans within the region’s natural heritage, amplify their cultural significance and enhance awareness amongst the local community. It will also highlight Madeira’s reputation as an eco-tourism destination, thereby acting as an incentive to meet the current rising influx of tourists visiting Madeira through more sustainable management of its resources and increased efforts to proudly protect its natural heritage.

Secondly, a WHA designation will act as a centralised tool to unify conservation efforts for cetaceans on several fronts. It would act as a facilitator, networking different sectors 

of the local community and coordinating communication amongst them efficiently. A WHA that is composed of stakeholders representing different parts of the community will assure an inclusive, non-hierarchical approach to marine conservation where everyone has the chance to voice topics relevant to the site’s targets. This, in turn, may prove influential and positively impact the region’s general attitude to environmental issues.

Furthermore a designation would also act as a possible conservation initiative that may strengthen current conservation efforts and aid in designing further strategies for cetaceans in the future. Local research on cetacean occurrence patterns also implies that Madeira forms part of a larger Macaronesian home range, making local conservation strategies meaningful for other regions. Moreover, protecting cetaceans may also help support ongoing conservation efforts for other vulnerable marine species in the region, such as the endangered Mediterranean monk seal colony inhabiting the coastal waters, especially around the Desertas Islands.

Boundary Map

Species or habitats

So far, researchers have confirmed 26 species of cetacean in the waters of Madeira, which is equivalent to almost a third of the planet’s known species! Bottlenose dolphins and short-finned pilot whales can be encountered all year round, along with deep divers like sperm whales and beaked whales. Seasonal visitors include Atlantic spotted dolphins and the occasional blue whale, with orcas and humpback whales rarely seen.

This diversity makes Madeira an incredible whale watching destination and, above all, underlines the region’s importance as a habitat for cetacean populations in the Atlantic.

Area Features

Short-finned pilot whale - Species

Stability

Short-finned pilot whale populations remain one of the best studied cetacean populations in the region, given the species strong site fidelity to Madeira. Recent studies also revealed no temporary emigration, high adult survival rates and stable abundance estimates, allowing us to assume that the populations of this species is stable.

Threats

The threats faced by cetaceans in Madeira are global threats, which includes ocean temperature rise, as well as localised threats which include harassment, ocean plastics, noise pollution, and fishing practices (including by-catch).

One of the factors that requires the most urgent action to prevent any future negative effects is harassment. Cetaceans in the archipelago’s waters are already frequently observed by many whale-watching boats, an activity which is well regulated but also tainted by competition due to an increase in tourists visiting the island. While regulations are in place, the monitoring of the activity and the enforcement of existing laws can be improved. For instance, several unlicensed boats deliberately approach cetaceans, even when they are already being observed by whale-watching companies. The pilot whales strong site fidelity to Madeira makes them particularly vulnerable to boat traffic and over-exposure to whale-watching platforms.

Cetaceans, particularly bottlenose dolphins, are often seen near fishing gear at sea or near aquaculture facilities along the coastline and have been observed approaching fishing boats (particularly Black Scabbard fishing vessels) and ruining their catch. Pilot whales have also been seen nearby fishing gear in deeper waters.

Plastic waste also represents a serious threat to marine life around the island and cetaceans are no exception to the rule. Interactions with plastic waste, ingestion of plastic or entanglement (particularly in discarded fishing nets) have been reported and observed in the island's waters.

Actions taken for protection

Whale-watching activity in Madeira is subject to the regulations set down by a legislation made by the Regional Government in 2013 stipulating rules for observation of cetaceans, specific observation areas and carrying capacity. The foundation for the legislation was a voluntary code of conduct for licensed whale-watching platforms created by the Whale Museum in 2003. The Whale Museum was also the first scientific department to have conducted research on cetaceans, with first projects dating back as far as 2000, and was later followed by the Oceanic Observatory of Madeira (OOM-ARDITI). Both institutes conduct long- term, interdisciplinary research on cetacean populations in Madeira and have contributed to international research projects, particularly those involving cetacean populations in Macaronesia.

Compliance of maritime operators to the legislation are overlooked by the IFCN (Instituto das Florestas e Conservação da Natureza), to whom operators also regularly send reports documenting their activity. IFCN park rangers also conduct observations from land or sea to monitor compliance amongst operators. Various whale-watching companies contribute data from their cetacean encounters at sea, particularly through photos used for photo- identification catalogues.

Education within the WHS community is promoted through ocean literacy initiatives, such as the nationwide Escola Azul programme for educational institutes, as well as through workshops, events and awareness campaigns by local institutions, NGOs, scientific institutions and touristic establishments.

Protection for cetaceans is also facilitated through the various marine protected areas (MPAs) in the region, particularly the SIC Cetaceos area, a EC Habitats Directive site that covers all coastal waters until the 2500m depth line in the region with targeted conservation strategies for different marine species, particularly the bottlenose dolphin and other cetacean species. Another critical area for cetaceans is the whale-watching exclusion zone, an area where the observation of cetaceans is prohibited which stretches along the Northeast coast up to the waters in the east between Madeira and the Desertas Islands.

Community Importance

Apart from their global importance and role as ecosystem engineers, the occurrence patterns of all mentioned species suggests a strong site fidelity to the islands waters, making them important regulators of the marine ecosystems of the archipelago. As top predators in the region, cetaceans can act as ecological indicators for the health of the regions ecosystems ecological indicators for local researchers, which helps plan efficient conservation strategies for the general protection of marine life in the region. Like in many other regions on the planet, the charisma of cetaceans has also earned them the role as flagship species that act as ambassadors for the protection of other marine life in the region.

While current research and conservation efforts for marine life including cetaceans provide several employment possibilities in the region, one of the most significant economic benefits granted through the presence of cetaceans is through whale-watching associated tourism. Currently around 29 licensed whale-watching companies are operating within the waters of the region, employing at least 140 people and taking at least 1000 guests out to sea per day.

Culturally, whales play a significant role in the past and present lives of the local community. The region’s past and present relationship with cetaceans is beautifully represented at the Whale Museum in Canical (Museu da baleia da Madeira), which acts as a testimony to  Madeira’s past whaling era and the region’s transition to safeguarding cetaceans through research and conservation.

Wildlife Watching Guidelines

The regulations for whale-watching activities in Madeira follow a legislation made by the Regional Government of Madeira in 2013 that defines operation areas, the maximum number of licensed platforms by groups of ports or marinas and behaviour during observations. The legislation defines two operation areas, Area I and Area II, that differ in capacity of whale-watching platforms and maximum number of boats that are simultaneously with the animals. Area I includes platforms operating in Ponta do Sol, Ribeira Brava, Funchal, Câmara de Lobos and Santa Cruz, while Area II includes platforms operating in Machico, Porto Moniz, São Vicente, Calheta and Porto Santo. No whale-watching activity is permitted in the “exclusion area” that stretches from the southeast waters between Madeira and the Desertas Islands, along the Northeast coast until Ponta Delgada.

Operation areas, the exclusion (or restricted area) as well as the number of platforms permitted are depicted in Fig.1 in the Wildlife Watching Guideline folder.

A maximum of 3 trips are permitted per platform per day in all designated areas and a maximum observation time of ten minutes is allowed. In Area I the maximum number of boats permitted in the area of approach (100-300m) and observation area (50-100m) are 2 and in Area II only 1 boat is permitted. Further details regarding rules of approach and observation are outlined in Fig. 2 in the Wildlife Watching Guideline folder. There is no differentiation in length of observation according to the cetacean species.

Fact 1

Resident pods of Short-finned pilot whales have a habitat range that includes Madeira and the Canary Islands.

Fact 2

Deepest recorded dive by a pilot whale in Madeira was 990m!

Fact 3

Female pilot whales form stable, family pods where all family members are responsible for raising and suckling the young.

Atlantic spotted dolphin - Species

Stability

Stable; no clear indication of increase or decline.

Threats

The threats faced by cetaceans in Madeira are global threats, which includes ocean temperature rise, as well as localised threats which include harassment, ocean plastics, noise pollution, and fishing practices (including by-catch).

One of the factors that requires the most urgent action to prevent any future negative effects is harassment. Cetaceans in the archipelago’s waters are already frequently observed by many whale-watching boats, an activity which is well regulated but also tainted by competition due to an increase in tourists visiting the island. While regulations are in place, the monitoring of the activity and the enforcement of existing laws can be improved. For instance, several unlicensed boats deliberately approach cetaceans, even when they are already being observed by whale-watching companies. Spotted dolphins are by far the most abundant of all cetacean species in summer. This combined with their curious behaviour towards boats as well as their tendency to engage in associative hunts with different species of tuna makes them one of the cetacean species most vulnerable to harassment by boats.

Cetaceans, particularly bottlenose dolphins, are often seen near fishing gear at sea or near aquaculture facilities along the coastline and have been observed approaching fishing boats (particularly Black Scabbard fishing vessels) and ruining their catch. Pilot whales have also been seen nearby fishing gear in deeper waters.

Plastic waste also represents a serious threat to marine life around the island and cetaceans are no exception to the rule. Interactions with plastic waste, ingestion of plastic or entanglement (particularly in discarded fishing nets) have been reported and observed in the island's waters.

Actions taken for protection

Whale-watching activity in Madeira is subject to the regulations set down by a legislation 

made by the Regional Government in 2013 stipulating rules for observation of cetaceans, specific observation areas and carrying capacity. The foundation for the legislation was a voluntary code of conduct for licensed whale-watching platforms created by the Whale Museum in 2003. The Whale Museum was also the first scientific department to have conducted research on cetaceans, with first projects dating back as far as 2000, and was later followed by the Oceanic Observatory of Madeira (OOM-ARDITI). Both institutes conduct long-term, interdisciplinary research on cetacean populations in Madeira and have contributed to international research projects, particularly those involving cetacean populations in Macaronesia.

Compliance of maritime operators to the legislation are overlooked by the IFCN (Instituto das Florestas e Conservação da Natureza), to whom operators also regularly send reports documenting their activity. IFCN park rangers also conduct observations from land or sea to monitor compliance amongst operators. Various whale-watching companies contribute data from their cetacean encounters at sea, particularly through photos used for photo- identification catalogues. 

Education within the WHS community is promoted through ocean literacy initiatives, such as the nationwide Escola Azul programme for educational institutes, as well as through workshops, events and awareness campaigns by local institutions, NGOs, scientific institutions and touristic establishments. 

Protection for cetaceans is also facilitated through the various marine protected areas (MPAs) in the region, particularly the SIC Cetaceos area, a EC Habitats Directive site that covers all coastal waters until the 2500m depth line in the region with targeted conservation strategies for different marine species, particularly the bottlenose dolphin and other cetacean species. Another critical area for cetaceans is the whale-watching exclusion zone, an area where the observation of cetaceans is prohibited which stretches along the Northeast coast up to the waters in the east between Madeira and the Desertas Islands. 

Community Importance

Apart from their global importance and role as ecosystem engineers, the occurrence patterns of all mentioned species suggests a strong site fidelity to the islands waters, making them important regulators of the marine ecosystems of the archipelago. As top predators in the region, cetaceans can act as ecological indicators for the health of the regions ecosystems ecological indicators for local researchers, which helps plan efficient conservation strategies for the general protection of marine life in the region. Like in many other regions on the planet, the charisma of cetaceans has also earned them the role as flagship species that act as ambassadors for the protection of other marine life in the region. 

While current research and conservation efforts for marine life including cetaceans provide several employment possibilities in the region, one of the most significant economic benefits granted through the presence of cetaceans is through whale-watching associated tourism. Currently around 29 licensed whale-watching companies are operating within the waters of the region, employing at least 140 people and taking at least 1000 guests out to sea per day. 

Culturally, whales play a significant role in the past and present lives of the local community.  The region’s past and present relationship with cetaceans is beautifully represented at the Whale Museum in Canical (Museu da baleia da Madeira), which acts as a testimony to  Madeira’s past whaling era and the region’s transition to safeguarding cetaceans through research and conservation. 

Wildlife Watching Guidelines

The regulations for whale-watching activities in Madeira follow a legislation made by the Regional Government of Madeira in 2013 that defines operation areas, the maximum number of licensed platforms by groups of ports or marinas and behaviour during observations. The legislation defines two operation areas, Area I and Area II, that differ in capacity of whale-watching platforms and maximum number of boats that are simultaneously with the animals. Area I includes platforms operating in Funchal, Câmara de Lobos and Santa Cruz, while Area II includes platforms operating in Machico, Porto Moniz, Calheta and Porto Santo. No whale-watching activity is permitted in the “exclusion area” that stretches from the southeast waters between Madeira and the Desertas Islands, along the Northeast coast until Ponta Delgada.

Operation areas, the exclusion (or restricted area) as well as the number of platforms permitted are depicted in Fig.1 in the Wildlife Watching Guideline folder.  

A maximum of 3 trips are permitted per platform per day in all designated areas and a maximum observation time of ten minutes is allowed. In Area I the maximum number of boats permitted in the area of approach (100-300m) and observation area (50-100m) are 2 and in Area II only 1 boat is permitted. Further details regarding rules of approach and observation are outlined in Fig. 2 in the Wildlife Watching Guideline folder. There is no differentiation in length of observation according to the cetacean species.

Fact 1

Endemic species to the Atlantic ocean with a distribution restricted to warmer and tropical waters.

Fact 2

Coloration and patterns vary as animals mature, allowing an easy estimation of the animals' age class.

Fact 3

Seasonal visitors in Madeira and the most abundant species during the summer.

Bottlenose dolphin - Species

Stability

Stable; no indication of increase or decline in island-associated population.

Threats

The threats faced by cetaceans in Madeira are global threats, which includes ocean temperature rise, as well as localised threats which include harassment, ocean plastics, noise pollution, and fishing practices (including by-catch).

One of the factors that requires the most urgent action to prevent any future negative effects is harassment. Cetaceans in the archipelago’s waters are already frequently observed by many whale-watching boats, an activity which is well regulated but also tainted by competition due to an increase in tourists visiting the island. While regulations are in place, the monitoring of the activity and the enforcement of existing laws can be improved. For instance, several unlicensed boats deliberately approach cetaceans, even when they are already being observed by whale-watching companies. Bottlenose dolphins tend to remain closer to the coast, making the species subject to frequent contact with boats.

Cetaceans, particularly bottlenose dolphins , are often seen near fishing gear at sea or near aquaculture facilities along the coastline and have been observed approaching fishing boats (particularly Black Scabbard fishing vessels) and ruining their catch. Pilot whales have also been seen nearby fishing gear in deeper waters.

Plastic waste also represents a serious threat to marine life around the island and cetaceans are no exception to the rule. Interactions with plastic waste, ingestion of plastic or entanglement (particularly in discarded fishing nets) have been reported and observed in the island's waters. Bottlenose dolphins are frequently observed playing with plastic waste, an activity which may easily result in ingestion or entanglement amongst younger individuals.

Actions taken for protection

Whale-watching activity in Madeira is subject to the regulations set down by a legislation made by the Regional Government in 2013 stipulating rules for observation of cetaceans, specific observation areas and carrying capacity. The foundation for the legislation was a voluntary code of conduct for licensed whale-watching platforms created by the Whale Museum in 2003. The Whale Museum was also the first scientific department to have conducted research on cetaceans, with first projects dating back as far as 2000, and was later followed by the Oceanic Observatory of Madeira (OOM-ARDITI). Both institutes conduct long- term, interdisciplinary research on cetacean populations in Madeira and have contributed to international research projects, particularly those involving cetacean populations in Macaronesia.

Compliance of maritime operators to the legislation are overlooked by the IFCN (Instituto das Florestas e Conservação da Natureza), to whom operators also regularly send reports documenting their activity. IFCN park rangers also conduct observations from land or sea to monitor compliance amongst operators. Various whale-watching companies contribute data from their cetacean encounters at sea, particularly through photos used for photo- identification catalogues. 

Education within the WHS community is promoted through ocean literacy initiatives, such as the nationwide Escola Azul programme for educational institutes, as well as through workshops, events and awareness campaigns by local institutions, NGOs, scientific institutions and touristic establishments. 

Protection for cetaceans is also facilitated through the various marine protected areas (MPAs) in the region, particularly the SIC Cetaceos area, a EC Habitats Directive site that covers all coastal waters until the 2500m depth line in the region with targeted conservation strategies for different marine species, particularly the bottlenose dolphin and other cetacean species. Another critical area for cetaceans is the whale-watching exclusion zone, an area where the observation of cetaceans is prohibited which stretches along the Northeast coast up to the waters in the east between Madeira and the Desertas Islands.

Community Importance

Apart from their global importance and role as ecosystem engineers, the occurrence patterns of all mentioned species suggests a strong site fidelity to the islands waters, making them important regulators of the marine ecosystems of the archipelago. As top predators in the region cetaceans, particularly species with a strong site fidelity to Madeira such as the Bottlenose dolphins, can act as ecological indicators for the health of the region’s ecosystems and allow the planning of efficient conservation strategies for the general protection of marine life in the region. An example of this is the SIC Cetaceaos marine protected area which was created primarily to protect bottlenose dolphins but also facilitates the conservation of other marine species. Like in many other regions on the planet, the charisma of cetaceans has also earned them the role as flagship species that act as ambassadors for the protection of other marine life in the region. 

While current research and conservation efforts for marine life including cetaceans provide several employment possibilities in the region, one of the most significant economic benefits granted through the presence of cetaceans is through whale-watching associated tourism. Currently around 29 licensed whale-watching companies are operating within the waters of the region, employing at least 140 people and taking at least 1000 guests out to sea per day. 

Culturally, whales play a significant role in the past and present lives of the local community.  The region’s past and present relationship with cetaceans is beautifully represented at the Whale Museum in Canical (Museu da baleia da Madeira), which acts as a testimony to  Madeira’s past whaling era and the region’s transition to safeguarding cetaceans through research and conservation. 

Wildlife Watching Guidelines

The regulations for whale-watching activities in Madeira follow a legislation made by the Regional Government of Madeira in 2013 that defines operation areas, the maximum number of licensed platforms by groups of ports or marinas and behaviour during observations. The legislation defines two operation areas, Area I and Area II, that differ in capacity of whale-watching platforms and maximum number of boats that are simultaneously with the animals. Area I includes platforms operating in Funchal, Câmara de Lobos and Santa Cruz, while Area II includes platforms operating in Machico, Porto Moniz, Calheta and Porto Santo. No whale-watching activity is permitted in the “exclusion area” that stretches from the southeast waters between Madeira and the Desertas Islands, along the Northeast coast until Ponta Delgada.

Operation areas, the exclusion (or restricted area) as well as the number of platforms 

permitted are depicted in Fig.1 in the Wildlife Watching Guideline folder.  

A maximum of 3 trips are permitted per platform per day in all designated areas and a maximum observation time of ten minutes is allowed. In Area I the maximum number of boats permitted in the area of approach (100-300m) and observation area (50-100m) are 2 and in Area II only 1 boat is permitted. Further details regarding rules of approach and observation are outlined in Fig. 2 in the Wildlife Watching Guideline folder. There is no differentiation in length of observation according to the cetacean species.

Fact 1

The bottlenose dolphin is, together with Short-finned pilot whales, the best documented cetacean species in the region.

Fact 2

Both oceanic and coastal ecotypes encountered in Madeira, with many coastal ecotype individuals confirmed as residents within a home range that includes Madeira and the Canary Islands.

Fact 3

Frequently encountered interacting with other cetacean species, particularly Short-finned pilot whales.

Blainville’s beaked whales - Species

Stability

Stable; currently no indication of increase or decline in population.

Threats

One of the factors that requires the most urgent action to prevent any future negative effects is harassment. Cetaceans in the archipelago’s waters are already frequently observed by many whale-watching boats, an activity which is well regulated but also tainted by competition due to an increase in tourists visiting the island. While regulations are in place, the monitoring of the activity and the enforcement of existing laws can be improved. For instance, several unlicensed boats deliberately approach cetaceans, even when they are already being observed by whale-watching companies.

Cetaceans, particularly bottlenose dolphins , are often seen near fishing gear at sea or near aquaculture facilities along the coastline and have been observed approaching fishing boats (particularly Black Scabbard fishing vessels) and ruining their catch. Pilot whales have also been seen nearby fishing gear in deeper waters.

Plastic waste also represents a serious threat to marine life around the island and cetaceans are no exception to the rule. Interactions with plastic waste, ingestion of plastic or entanglement (particularly in discarded fishing nets) have been reported and observed in the island's waters.

Actions taken for protection

Whale-watching activity in Madeira is subject to the regulations set down by a legislation made by the Regional Government in 2013 stipulating rules for observation of cetaceans, specific observation areas and carrying capacity. The foundation for the legislation was a voluntary code of conduct for licensed whale-watching platforms created by the Whale Museum in 2003. The Whale Museum was also the first scientific department to have conducted research on cetaceans, with first projects dating back as far as 2000, and was later followed by the Oceanic Observatory of Madeira (OOM-ARDITI). Both institutes conduct long- term, interdisciplinary research on cetacean populations in Madeira and have contributed to international research projects, particularly those involving cetacean populations in Macaronesia.

Compliance of maritime operators to the legislation are overlooked by the IFCN (Instituto 

das Florestas e Conservação da Natureza), to whom operators also regularly send reports documenting their activity. IFCN park rangers also conduct observations from land or sea to monitor compliance amongst operators. Various whale-watching companies contribute data from their cetacean encounters at sea, particularly through photos used for photo- identification catalogues. 

Education within the WHS community is promoted through ocean literacy initiatives, such as the nationwide Escola Azul programme for educational institutes, as well as through workshops, events and awareness campaigns by local institutions, NGOs, scientific institutions and touristic establishments. 

Protection for cetaceans is also facilitated through the various marine protected areas (MPAs) in the region, particularly the SIC Cetaceos area, a EC Habitats Directive site that covers all coastal waters until the 2500m depth line in the region with targeted conservation strategies for different marine species, particularly the bottlenose dolphin and other cetacean species. Another critical area for cetaceans is the whale-watching exclusion zone, an area where the observation of cetaceans is prohibited which stretches along the Northeast coast up to the waters in the east between Madeira and the Desertas Islands. 

Community Importance

Apart from their global importance and role as ecosystem engineers, the occurrence patterns of all mentioned species suggests a strong site fidelity to the islands waters, making them important regulators of the marine ecosystems of the archipelago. As top predators in the region, cetaceans can act as ecological indicators for the health of the region’s marine ecosystems which helps plan efficient conservation strategies for the general protection of marine life in the region. Like in many other regions on the planet, the charisma of cetaceans has also earned them the role as flagship species that act as ambassadors for the protection of other marine life in the region. 

While current research and conservation efforts for marine life including cetaceans provide several employment possibilities in the region, one of the most significant economic benefits granted through the presence of cetaceans is through whale-watching associated tourism. Currently around 29 licensed whale-watching companies are operating within the waters of the region, employing at least 140 people and taking at least 1000 guests out to sea per day. 

Culturally, whales play a significant role in the past and present lives of the local community.  The region’s past and present relationship with cetaceans is beautifully represented at the Whale Museum in Canical (Museu da baleia da Madeira), which acts as a testimony to  Madeira’s past whaling era and the region’s transition to safeguarding cetaceans through research and conservation.

Wildlife Watching Guidelines

The regulations for whale-watching activities in Madeira follow a legislation made by the Regional Government of Madeira in 2013 that defines operation areas, the maximum number of licensed platforms by groups of ports or marinas and behaviour during observations. The legislation defines two operation areas, Area I and Area II, that differ in capacity of whale-watching platforms and maximum number of boats that are simultaneously with the animals. Area I includes platforms operating in Funchal, Câmara de Lobos and Santa Cruz, while Area II includes platforms operating in Machico, Porto Moniz, Calheta and Porto Santo. No whale-watching activity is permitted in the “exclusion area” that stretches from the southeast waters between Madeira and the Desertas Islands, along the Northeast coast until Ponta Delgada.

Operation areas, the exclusion (or restricted area) as well as the number of platforms permitted are depicted in Fig.1 in the Wildlife Watching Guideline folder.  

A maximum of 3 trips are permitted per platform per day in all designated areas and a maximum observation time of ten minutes is allowed. In Area I the maximum number of boats permitted in the area of approach (100-300m) and observation area (50-100m) are 2 and in Area II only 1 boat is permitted. Further details regarding rules of approach and observation are outlined in Fig. 2 in the Wildlife Watching Guideline folder. There is no differentiation in length of observation according to the cetacean species.

Fact 1

One of the best studied beaked whale species.

Fact 2

Studies suggest females remain with their birth pod and have a strong relationship to Madeira as a habitat. 

Fact 3

Adult males easily distinguished from adult females through protruding tusks on their lower jaw and the deep scars on their backs.

Bryde's whale - Species

Stability

N.A

Threats

One of the factors that requires the most urgent action to prevent any future negative effects is harassment. Cetaceans in the archipelago’s waters are already frequently observed by many whale-watching boats, an activity which is well regulated but also tainted by competition due to an increase in tourists visiting the island. While regulations are in place, the monitoring of the activity and the enforcement of existing laws can be improved. For instance, several unlicensed boats deliberately approach cetaceans, even when they are already being observed by whale-watching companies.

Cetaceans, particularly bottlenose dolphins, are often seen near fishing gear at sea or near aquaculture facilities along the coastline and have been observed approaching fishing boats (particularly Black Scabbard fishing vessels) and ruining their catch. Pilot whales have also been seen nearby fishing gear in deeper waters.

Plastic waste also represents a serious threat to marine life around the island and cetaceans are no exception to the rule. Interactions with plastic waste, ingestion of plastic or entanglement (particularly in discarded fishing nets) have been reported and observed in the island's waters.

Actions taken for protection

Whale-watching activity in Madeira is subject to the regulations set down by a legislation made by the Regional Government in 2013 stipulating rules for observation of cetaceans, specific observation areas and carrying capacity. The foundation for the legislation was a voluntary code of conduct for licensed whale-watching platforms created by the Whale Museum in 2003. The Whale Museum was also the first scientific department to have conducted research on cetaceans, with first projects dating back as far as 2000, and was later followed by the Oceanic Observatory of Madeira (OOM-ARDITI). Both institutes conduct long- term, interdisciplinary research on cetacean populations in Madeira and have contributed to international research projects, particularly those involving cetacean populations in Macaronesia.

Compliance of maritime operators to the legislation are overlooked by the IFCN (Instituto das Florestas e Conservação da Natureza), to whom operators also regularly send reports documenting their activity. IFCN park rangers also conduct observations from land or sea to monitor compliance amongst operators. Various whale-watching companies contribute data from their cetacean encounters at sea, particularly through photos used for photo- identification catalogues. 

Education within the WHS community is promoted through ocean literacy initiatives, such as the nationwide Escola Azul programme for educational institutes, as well as through workshops, events and awareness campaigns by local institutions, NGOs, scientific institutions and touristic establishments. 

Protection for cetaceans is also facilitated through the various marine protected areas (MPAs) in the region, particularly the SIC Cetaceos area, a EC Habitats Directive site that covers all coastal waters until the 2500m depth line in the region with targeted conservation strategies for different marine species, particularly the bottlenose dolphin and other cetacean species. Another critical area for cetaceans is the whale-watching exclusion zone, an area where the observation of cetaceans is prohibited which stretches along the Northeast coast up to the waters in the east between Madeira and the Desertas Islands.

Community Importance

Apart from their global importance and role as ecosystem engineers, the occurrence patterns of all mentioned species suggests a strong site fidelity to the islands waters, making them important regulators of the marine ecosystems of the archipelago. As top predators in the region, cetaceans can act as ecological indicators for the health of the region's marine ecosystems, which helps plan efficient conservation strategies for the general protection of marine life in the region. Like in many other regions on the planet, the charisma of cetaceans has also earned them the role as flagship species that act as ambassadors for the protection of other marine life in the region. 

While current research and conservation efforts for marine life including cetaceans provide several employment possibilities in the region, one of the most significant economic benefits granted through the presence of cetaceans is through whale-watching associated tourism. Currently around 29 licensed whale-watching companies are operating within the waters of the region, employing at least 140 people and taking at least 1000 guests out to sea per day. 

Culturally, whales play a significant role in the past and present lives of the local community.  The region’s past and present relationship with cetaceans is beautifully represented at the Whale Museum in Canical (Museu da baleia da Madeira), which acts as a testimony to  Madeira’s past whaling era and the region’s transition to safeguarding cetaceans through research and conservation. 

Wildlife Watching Guidelines

The regulations for whale-watching activities in Madeira follow a legislation made by the Regional Government of Madeira in 2013 that defines operation areas, the maximum number of licensed platforms by groups of ports or marinas and behaviour during observations. The legislation defines two operation areas, Area I and Area II, that differ in capacity of whale-watching platforms and maximum number of boats that are simultaneously with the animals. Area I includes platforms operating in Funchal, Câmara de Lobos and Santa Cruz, while Area II includes platforms operating in Machico, Porto Moniz, Calheta and Porto Santo. No whale-watching activity is permitted in the “exclusion area” that stretches from the southeast waters between Madeira and the Desertas Islands, along the Northeast coast until Ponta Delgada.

Operation areas, the exclusion (or restricted area) as well as the number of platforms permitted are depicted in Fig.1 in the Wildlife Watching Guideline folder.  

A maximum of 3 trips are permitted per platform per day in all designated areas and a maximum observation time of ten minutes is allowed. In Area I the maximum number of boats permitted in the area of approach (100-300m) and observation area (50-100m) are 2 and in Area II only 1 boat is permitted. Further details regarding rules of approach and observation are outlined in Fig. 2 in the Wildlife Watching Guideline folder. There is no differentiation in length of observation according to the cetacean species.

Fact 1

Most frequently encountered Baleen whale species with animals showing different degrees of site fidelity to Madeira.

Fact 2

In contrast to many baleen whales, the Bryde’s whale doesn’t embark on long migrations and tends to remain in the warm waters of tropical/subtropical latitudes.

Fact 3

Best distinguished from other baleen whales through its 3 rostral ridges.

Criteria

1. Cultural Importance Of Wildlife

1.1 Cultural heritage linking people to wildlife demonstrates significant understanding and on-going respect for wildlife and habitats.

Publications, media, and other communications referring to cultural heritage linking people and cetaceans:

Freitas, L., 1998. “O Lobo Marinho e o Homem”, Islenha, nº 23 (Jul-Dez): 25-32.

Freitas, L., Dinis, A., Alves, F., Nóbrega, F., 2004. Cetáceos no arquipélago da Madeira, Edição Museu da Baleia, 108p.

Freitas, L., Antunes, R., Freitas, C., Pires, R., 2002. Mamíferos marinhos do arquipélago da Madeira. Edição da Direcção Regional do Ambiente da Madeira, Colecção Biodiversidade Madeirense: Avaliação e Conservação, nº 2, 80p.

Freitas, L., 2016. Museu da Baleia da Madeira. Dicionário Enciclopédico Madeirense – Aprender Madeira. http://aprenderamadeira.net/baleia-museu-da/

Freitas, L., 2016. Caça à Baleia na Madeira. Dicionário Enciclopédico Madeirense – Aprender Madeira. http://aprenderamadeira.net/baleia-caca-na-madeira/

Freitas, L., 2016. Muzej Kitova Madeire: “Živo Biće”. Informatica Museologica, 45-46: 89-94.

Freitas, L.,2015. Patrimónios histórico-naturais no Museu da Baleia da Madeira. Argos, nº 3: 46-51

Soulaire, Jacques 2007. Le Grand Cachalot: Tome I Cétologie L'or du cachalot. Éditions S.P.M. Paris, 293pp

Soulaire, Jacques 2007. Le Grand Cachalot: Tome III Histoire chronologique de la chasse au cachalot. Éditions S.P.M. Paris, 272pp

Soulaire, Jacques 1959. À La research de moby dick,  Hachette, France, 95pp

Figueiredo, J.M. 1996. Introdução ao estudo da indústria baleeira insular. Museu dos Baleeiros.284

Websites, photographs, or videos of immovable heritage such as museums,  visitor centres and other buildings, large installations, other historic places and  monuments linked to cetaceans: Immovable cultural heritage linking people and cetaceans includes the Madeira Whale Museum (Museu da Baleia da Madeira) in Caniçal:

Whale Museum Website

Photographs of moveable heritage including books, documents, tools,  machines, transportation, musical instruments, clothing, archaeological  discoveries and other artifacts linked to cetaceans/ Photographs of moveable artworks including paintings, photographs, film,  sculpture, jewellery, architecture or landscape design linked to cetaceans: Moveable artworks including “scrimshaw” art pieces, documents from the whaling era, tools used in whaling and photographs are included as exhibits at the Madeira Whale Museum: https://www.museudabaleia.org/en/exhibitions/permanent-exhibitions.html

1.2 The presentation and interpretation of cultural heritage linked to wildlife is respectful, sensitive, and benefits those living and working in the Wildlife Heritage Area.

Proof that participation in cultural heritage experiences linked to cetaceans is based on mutual respect and equality, regardless of gender, age, or social status,  and upholds the right of Indigenous Peoples to Free, Prior and Informed Consent  (FPIC): Educational events at Whale Museum for children/youths of all ages, including children/youth with special needs. Photos under following link:  https://www.museudabaleia.org/en/galleries/106-servicos-educativos.html

Evidence of local participation and feedback on the planning of new (or changes  to existing) cultural heritage experiences, interpretation, and presentation linked  to cetaceans: Artist & digital nomad Piera Mattioli created a colorful pilot whale mural in the marina of Calheta with the help of the local community in Calheta. This included children from a summer activity club and people from an old people’s home in the district. Pictures of the experience are attached.

Another cultural heritage experience which will integrate more participation and feedback from the local community is the planned Whale Festival, which is outlined in detail as Target 5 in our WHA managemetn plan.

1.3 Efforts are in place to continually revive, reimagine, and enhance the presentation and interpretation of cultural heritage linked to wildlife.

Proof that efforts are being made to revive indigenous or traditional cultural  heritage linked to cetaceans: Our steering committee has an annual Whale Festival as one of its targets in our management plan (Target 5) with its own committee that will aim to include representatives from different parts of the local community.

Meeting minutes describing efforts to enhance and expand cultural heritage  linked to cetaceans: A Whale Festival and the involvement of one of our stakeholders and steering committee members, a representative from Madeira Art Hub and ARTEM Svetlana Azernikova-Yurzditskaya, was already discussed in our last steering committee meeting. We intend to encourage involvement of whale-watching companies

Photographs, videos or audio recordings demonstrating contemporary  interpretation of cultural heritage linked to cetaceans e.g. through street art; Please find photos of the Pilot Whale Mural in Calheta by Piera Mattioli and the Whale Mural in Funchal by Marcos Milewski in the folder.

1.4 The community regularly monitors the impact of cultural heritage linked to wildlife and takes action to strengthen that impact based on the latest evidence.

Evidence of inclusion of local communities in data collection and evaluation; Citizen science projects by MARE Madeira include applications to report species during dives and report marine litter. Citizen science projects which include other members of the local community, such as fishermen, are also being conducted by the regional Secretary of the Sea and Fisheries as well as through the Whale Museum. The Whale Museum also has the island’s stranding network (RACAM) to which all members of the local community can report stranded, injured or dead cetaceans and has organized beach clean up activities involving local schools where the litter collected is classified and counted, to provide data on litter arriving to the beaches to the science unit of the Museum.

A monitoring/feedback system is in place to capture how cultural heritage  positively impacts people's relationship and connection to cetaceans and nature; The Madeira Whale Museum keeps records of its visitors with focus on stats of visitors from educational facilities. The museum’s stats for 2022 as confirmed by the museum director: 28 921 visitors, 2047 students from different years (from primary school to high school), which not only visited the exhibits but had the Museum teachers organizing events about cetaceans and whale related cultural heritage! Direct revenue from tickets: 226 000 euros.

    Criteria

    2. Respectful Human-Wildlife Coexistence

    2.1 The community collaborates to ensure the protection of wildlife through research, nature conservation, regenerating biodiversity, and safeguarding individual animals from harm.

    Published local research on cetacean conservation or animal welfare, including  evidence that the quality of the natural habitat to be protected is improving or  that individuals and populations are afforded greater protection; 

    Verborgh P, Janssen EH, Esteban R, Gauffier, P, Freitas, L (2022) Proposing a framework for monitoring demographic parameters in local cetacean populations: the case of short-finned pilot whales in Madeira. Mamm Biol 102(4). https://doi.org/10.1007/s42991-022-00266-y

    Rey-Iglesia A, Gaubert P, Espregueira Themudo G, Pires R, de la Fuente C, Freitas L, Aguilar A, Borrell A, Krakhmalnaya T, Vasconcelos R, Campos PF (2021) Mitogenomics of the endangered Mediterranean monk seal ( Monachus monachus ) reveals dramatic loss of diversity and supports historical gene-flow between Atlantic and eastern Mediterranean populations. Zool J Linn Soc 191:1147–1159. https://doi.org/10.1093/zoolinnean/zlaa084

    Saavedra, C., Santos, M.B., Valcarce, P., Freitas, L., Silva, M., Pipa, T., Bécares, J., Gil-Velasco, M., Vandeperre, F., Gouveia, C., Lopes, V., Teixeira, A., Simão, A.P. Matias, J. O., Miodonski, J. V., Carreira, G.P., Henriques, F., Pérez, S., Esteban, R., Verborgh, P., Cañadas, C., Varo, N., Lagoa, J., Dellinger, T., Atchoi, E., Silva, C., Pérez, M., Servidio, A., Martín, V. Carrillo, M., Urquiola, E., Monzón, C., 2020. Macaronesia Roof Report, 2018. Project Mistic Seas II - Applying a subregional coherent and coordinated approach to the monitoring and assessment of marine biodiversity in Macaronesia for the second cycle of the MFSD, GRANT AGREEMENT NO 11.0661/2017/750679/SUB/ENV.C2

    Freitas, L., Cañadas, A., Servidio, A., Pérez-Gil, M., Pérez-Gil, E., Varo-Cruz, N., Silva,S., Vandeperre, F., Esteban, R. 2019. A-MB-TR2 – Technical Report, Sub-programmes Abundance of Oceanic Cetaceans (MM) and Loggerhead Census (MT)- Oceanic. Project Mistic Seas II - Applying a subregional coherent and coordinated approach to the monitoring and assessment of marine biodiversity in Macaronesia for the second cycle of the MFSD, GRANT AGREEMENT NO 11.0661/2017/750679/SUB/ENV.C2.

    Freitas, L., Ribeiro, C., Dinis, A., Alves, F., Nicolau, C., Carvalho, A. (2014). Proposta de Criação de um Sítio de Importância Comunitária para o golfinho-roaz (Tursiops truncatus) no Arquipélago da Madeira (Deliverable A.7_I). Technical report of the project CETACEOSMADEIRA II (LIFE07 NAT/P/000646), Madeira Whale Museum, 58p.

    Freitas, L., Ribeiro, C., Dinis, A., Nicolau, C., Alves, F., Carvalho, A. (2014). Estudo técnico-científico de suporte à criação de um Sítio de Importância Comunitária (SIC) para o golfinho-roaz (Tursiops truncatus) no Arquipélago da Madeira (Deliverable A.7_IA). Technical report of the project CETACEOSMADEIRA II (LIFE07 NAT/P/000646), Madeira Whale Museum.

    Freitas, L., Alves, F., Ribeiro, C., Dinis, A., Nicolau, C., Carvalho, A. (2014). Proposta de criação de áreas de operação para a actividade de whalewatching e respectiva capacidade de carga (Deliverable A.7_II). Technical report of the project CETACEOSMADEIRA II (LIFE07 NAT/P/000646), Madeira Whale Museum.

    Freitas, L., Alves, F., Ribeiro, C., Dinis, A., Nicolau, C., Carvalho, A. (2014). Estudo técnico-científico de suporte à proposta de criação de áreas de operação para a actividade de whalewatching e a respectiva capacidade de carga (Deliverable A.7_IIA). Technical report of the project CETACEOSMADEIRA II (LIFE07 NAT/P/000646), Madeira Whale Museum.

    Freitas, L. (2004). Estatutos de conservação dos cetáceos no arquipélago da Madeira (documento F). Technical report of the Project CETACEOSMADEIRA (LIFE99 NAT/P/06432), Madeira Whale Museum, 36

    Opportunities given to scientists to conduct research locally; These are available both at the Whale Museum and at MARE Madeira.

    Legislation designed to protect cetaceans from harm; Documents outlining the code of conduct at sea when observing cetaceans or other marine life can be found in the folder.

    Evidence of involving recreational users of cetaceans habitat in educational  programmes; pictures from educational initiatives on cetaceans from whale-watching companies Lobosonda, Madeira Divepoint and Scorpio Madeira included in the folder.

    Published list of protected sites and assets; A list of protected areas in the WHA, both terrestrial and marine, can be found on the website of the IFCN (Instituto das Florestas e Conservação da Natureza)

    2.2 The community raises awareness about the protection of wildlife, including ways for everybody to help contribute to solutions.

    Incentivised opportunities for local community groups or schools to meet  cetaceans experts and take responsible whale watching tours: Attached are photos from whale-watching companies (Lobosonda, Scorpio Madeira and Madeira Divepoint) and from educational activities by MARE research unit. 

    Evidence of education resources and strategy; Proof of further planned incentives outlined in management plan (Target 4).

    2.3 The community influences the protection of wildlife through strategies based on practical, scientific, or traditional knowledge.

    Citizen science projects run collaboratively and involving tourism businesses; Whale-watching companies frequently send data from their tours and examples of publications related to this data are attached. Collaborating companies are mentioned in the acknowledgements in the attached papers and include WHA stakeholders. Dive centers also collaborate with citizen science project initiatives by MARE Madeira.

    The attached research papers also fulfill another point (Ongoing long-term independent conservation-research delivered by a number  of stakeholders, including NGOs, academic institutions, and government  bodies) since many involve government institutions and all research conducted on site fidelity/tourism impact help understand the challenges faced by cetaceans and facilitate conservation efforts directed at specific species.

    Meeting minutes, project plans or other evidence showing cooperation  between communities and local conservation organizations to identify  environmental impacts associated with tourism or other factors and measures  to reduce them; Attached paper Sambolino et al. is an example of a cooperation between whale-watching companies and scientists to understand the pressure of the industry on the animals. WHA steering committee members include representatives from the scientific community, government representatives, NGOs, conservation hubs, artists and whale-watching companies, that together have identified increased pressure on cetaceans through tourism and all intend to cooperate to improve environmental impact in a multifaceted manner.

    2.4 The community recognises that there may be clashes of interests and values related to the protection of wildlife and has strategies in place to resolve them as fairly as possible.

    Meeting minutes describing how issues have been addressed and solutions found & Meeting minutes show that reported cetacean-human conflicts are appropriately discussed and addressed: Link to folder containing steering committee meeting summaries and topics, outlining the discussion of challenges and solutions, which include points on how committee members (like whale watching companies) will be included as committee members and how they can participate. One of the topics mentioned in our most recent meeting is the inclusion of fishermen in our committee.

    Documented conflict resolution tools and resources that are inclusive have  been adopted by the steering committee: As mentioned above, our committee intends to expand in an inclusive way, where it includes members representing industries that may present a threat to cetaceans and actively discuss solutions. Including a big-game fisherman on our committee may help us communicate our concerns to that community and further safeguard cetacean populations around Madeira. Our committee also aims to establish a formal feedback mechanism between whale-watching companies and authorities by means of a whale-watching board. These intentions are further outlined in our management plan.

      2.5 The community supports and implements sustainability and environmental initiatives that have a positive impact on local wildlife.

      Research to understand environmental impacts on cetaceans as part of efforts  to reduce them: research papers are attached in document

      Registration with an acknowledged eco-label/certification: Madeira has 26 beaches certified as Blue Flag beaches.

      Reduction of waste and use of eco-products to reduce chemical contamination: apart from beach cleanups organized by whale-watching companies and the local community (pictures attached), the regional secretary for the environment, natural resources and climate change and local research agency ARDITI are engaged in the EU regional development fund’s project Clean Atlantic for Madeira. https://www.arditi.pt/en/projetos-em-execucao/clean-atlantic-project.

      Listed below are links to the reports made so far by the Clean Atlantic project:

        http://www.cleanatlantic.eu/summary-of-results/

      https://www.oceanlitproject.com/category/madeira/

      https://www.oceanlitproject.com/blog/

      https://www.madeira.gov.pt/draac/Estrutura/DRAAC/Areas/A%c3%a7%c3%a3o-Clim%c3%a1tica/ctl/Read/mid/12978/InformacaoId/136901/UnidadeOrganicaId/14/CatalogoId/0

      Proof of carbon footprint measurement and initiatives and incentives to reduce carbon emissions in the tourism sector: Greeneract is an phone app that helps locals and tourists participate in sustainable projects, get engaged within sustainable initiatives and support sustainable partners. The app’s measure of sustainability is tailored according to the UN Sustainable Development Goals which include climate action.

      Art and craft projects utilizing local and sustainable materials; please find a photo of artist Bordalo II’s Monk Seal mural in Câmara de Lobos, which was created using trash from beach cleanups. Photos from one of those cleanups (organized by Lobosonda in Madalena do Mar) is also attached.

      Training course agenda to show provision of sustainability training for local  tourism businesses: the WHA steering committee has included the introduction of an educational programme as a target in its management plan (Target 4) which will include training courses for whale-watching guides, spotters and other staff members.

      The establishment of appropriate fisheries and farming management strategies  and governance systems that improve the sustainability of fisheries and  fishers’/ farmers livelihoods; Currently the regional secretary of the sea and fisheries (SrMAR) are planning the CIBBRiNA project (Coordinated Development and Implementation of Best Practice in  Bycatch  Reduction in the North Atlantic, Baltic and Mediterranean Regions), starting on the 1st of September, 2023. This project will reinforce the involvement of the fisheries sector to establish, at regional level, mitigation measures in order to achieve a marked change in the reliability of incidental catch estimates, while achieving a successful cooperation between countries. The project is still in its initial phase so they were unable to provide data on it as yet.

      2.6 The community regularly monitors the health and protection of wildlife and adopts strategies based on the latest evidence.

      A monitoring and evaluation plan is developed and implemented throughout  the three year lifecycle of the management plan: A monitoring system using indicators is one of the aims of Target 1 within our WHA management plan

      Evidence of on-going science-based monitoring of cetacean populations and  the habitats they depend on; examples of publications on scientific research on cetaceans (particularly site fidelity)and impact of whale-watching activity on cetacean populations attached in the folder.

      Long-term scientific monitoring initiatives of the Whale Museum include:

      - The RACAM (Rede de Arrojamentos de Cetáceos no Arquipélago da Madeira) stranding network running from 1995, which collects data on reported stranded cetaceans, including conducting necropsies;

      - long-term photo-identification catalogs of cetacean populations using Madeira archipelago waters;

      - Regular abundance estimates of several of those populations based on long-term data collection in several projects;

      - Long-term follow-up of the whale-watching activity in Madeira archipelago;

      Criteria

      3. Responsible Wildlife Tourism

      3.1 The community has strategies in place to identify and raise awareness about exploitative, extractive, or consumptive captive or wild animal tourism attractions.

      Evidence of the promotion of responsible cetacean tourism experiences as an alternative to existing exploitative, extractive, captive or wild cetacean tourism  attractions within or outside the Whale Heritage Area: a responsible approach as well as sustainable practice within whale-watching companies is communicated as the company philosophy by several whale-watching companies within the region. Examples  include Lobosonda, VMT, Ventura do Mar and Magic Dolphin, all members of the WHA’s steering committee as part of a whale-watching board.

      A short action plan that identifies the most likely threats from newly arising or  discovered exploitative, extractive, captive or wild cetacean tourism and  actions that could be taken to reduce or eliminate this risk; one of the primary targets of our WHA management plan is the creation of a successful whale-watching board (Target 3) that, amongst other things, aims to address all challenges faced by the industry in the region and encourage its sustainable development.

      Evidence of dialogue with the governing bodies or license holders for  exploitative, extractive, captive or wild cetacean tourism attractions to  encourage a shift towards a more responsible alternative; Over the year the Madeira Whale Museum has had a series of meetings with the Regional authorities and sent several reports that were the bases for the creation of legislation for whale-watching, calling the attention for the bycatch and interactions between fisheries and cetaceans, or the establishment of the SAC for cetaceans in Madeira (SIC Cetaceos Madeira). The attached reports and the one mentioned below were on the basis of above mentioned measures.

      - Freitas, L. 2016. Problemática do palangre de superfície nas águas costeiras do arquipélago da Madeira, evidências de 2016. Relatório do Museu da Baleia da Madeira.

      3.2 The community promotes responsible wildlife experiences.

      Adoption of ethical advertising practices that do not set unrealistic whale and  dolphin watching expectations; a responsible approach as well as sustainable practice within whale-watching companies is communicated as the company philosophy by several whale-watching companies within the region. Examples  include Lobosonda, VMT, Ventura do Mar and Magic Dolphin, all members of the WHA’s steering committee as part of a whale-watching board.

      Public tourist surveys showing that customers recognise the importance of  responsible whale and dolphin watching tourism and identify the Whale Heritage Area as a cetacean-friendly destination; A survey (attached) by a researcher at the IFCN was conducted with whale-watching companies, their staff and clients to evaluate the effect of the activity on local cetaceans, operators compliance to the legislation and client satisfaction on the sustainability of the tours (page 80).

      3.3 Responsible wildlife viewing guidelines are adopted within the Wildlife Heritage Area and regularly updated to follow expert or science-based best practice. These guidelines conform to international, national, or local legislation where it exists.

      The IFCN (Institute of Forests and Nature Conservation) is the body responsible for anything related to the legislation for whale-watching in Madeira. Attached is a link to a site outlining the requirements for a company applying for a whale-watching license and attached in the folder are documents:

      • Showing the area where whale-watching is permitted
      • Laws on code of conduct and observation
      • Laws on capacity in different ports around the island

      Regular scientific input and output, with scientific knowledge contributing to  the evolution of guidelines/regulations; examples of publications and project reports attached, including the proposal (Proposal WW) on which the regulations from the IFCN are based.

      3.4 Efforts are made to enforce responsible wildlife viewing guidelines and international, national, or local legislation where it exists.

      Evidence of a training session organized by the IFCN & regional secretary for the environment, natural resources and climate change.. Below is the invite text that was received by all whale-watching companies through email and attached in the folder is the document to register for the training (Ficha Inscrição):

      A Entidade Formadora – Secretaria Regional de Ambiente, Recursos Naturais e Alterações Climáticas (SRAAC), vem por este meio, informar que estão abertas as inscrições para a turma 2 da seguinte formação até ao dia 28 de fevereiro de 2020 às 17h30:

      Denominação da Formação: “Observação de vertebrados marinhos e a respetiva legislação”

      Formadora: Dr.ª Rosa Pires

      Destinatários: Elementos de empresas marítimo-turísticas licenciadas para a observação de vertebrados marinhos.

      Cronograma:

      Mês: março/ 2020

      Dia(s): 04

      Horário: 14:00H – 17:30H

      N.º Horas: 3,5

      Local: Auditório da sede da Reserva Natural do Garajau, no Lazareto – Funchal.

      Objetivo Geral: Contribuir para a proteção e bem-estar dos vertebrados marinhos da Madeira.

      Objetivos Específicos:

      • Dotar os operadores e operacionais que exercem a atividade de observação de vertebrados marinhos dos conhecimentos necessários para exercerem a sua atividade de forma legal;
      • Consciencializar para a diminuição das fontes de perturbação aos vertebrados marinhos da RAM.

      Data limite de entrega das fichas de inscrição originais no Gabinete dos Recursos Humanos da SRAAC (edifício do Campo da Barca): 28 de fevereiro até ás 17:30h

      Para a inscrição, solicitamos que utilizem a ficha de inscrição anexa a este email e que a preencham a computador, imprimam e que o superior hierárquico assine antes de entregarem.

      • Evidence of consequences for companies not abiding to code of conduct (Nautipos Fishing Lda.)
      • Evidence of a system in place for anyone to report irresponsible practices, description of methods used to incentivise compliance with evidence of  success; If non-compliance at sea is observed, observers are to write a report to the IFCN with the date, time and visual proof of the event (photos, videos)

      The steering committee has included targets in the management plan that should easen communication between whale-watching companies and the authorities through the formation of a whale-watching board (Target 3). This should grant operators a more unified response to challenges in the industry and also encourage more enforcement of existing laws. The committee also plans to create an educational programme (Target 4 in management plan) which aims to create a training programme for whale-watching staff.

      3.5 Tourism and the behaviour of tourists are managed to reduce negative impacts on wildlife and habitats.

      An assessment of how tourism activities impact cetaceans and nature,  covering current and future risks is undertaken and made publicly available; scientific publications and surveys attached.

      Evidence for the development of a code of practice for tour operators and tour  guides on responsible whale and dolphin watching; protocol that set the foundation for the IFCN’s regulations on whale-watching in the region attached (Protocol WW)

      3.6 The community plays a key role in designing and operating wildlife experiences, which provide direct social and economic benefits.

      The direct and indirect benefits and costs associated with cetacean experiences for the local community are identified and documented; reports and scientific publication attached.

      Evidence of action taken on the back of feedback from surveys of public attitudes towards cetacean experiences and related tourism; while the public and visitors gladly participate in surveys related to the whale-watching industry, such feedback has to as yet be integrated in current regulations. This will be both addressed and tackled in the planned whale-watching board (Target 3) of our management plan, where we intend to improve the efficiency of dialogue between the regions governing body on wildlife watching (IFCN) and the whale-watching companies as well as in the planned informative website (Target 2) where all members of the local community will be kept informed about developments within the WHA, including within the whale-watching industry.

      3.7 The community monitors the impacts of tourism on targeted species and habitats and regularly acts to reduce those impacts based on the latest evidence.

      Evidence of on-going science-based monitoring of the positive or negative  impacts of tourism on cetaceans and the habitats they depend on; most recent scientific paper attached and recent report attached.

      A monitoring and evaluation plan is developed and implemented throughout  the three year lifecycle of the management plan; the aim of designing a set of indicators for sustainability in regards to cetaceans are mentioned in Target 1 in our management plan.

      Management Plan

      Number of people engaged in the Wildlife Heritage Area project 45-50
      Number of individuals, organisations, and businesses working together 22
      Number of people employed in wildlife-related activities 140-150

      Management Plan File

      Overview

      Title
      Madeira Whale Heritage Area
      Level
      Designated
      Name Location
      Madeira Island
      Name Species Group
      Cetacean
      Country
      PRT
      Approximate size (sq km)
      11.635
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