|The St. Lucia Whale and Dolphin Watching Association (SLWDWA)
has elected a new executive.
Whale watch operator Christopher Hackshaw is the
incoming Chairman replacing Douglas Rapier who had held the position
from the Associationís inception in 1996. Caroline Aimable of Mystic
Man Tours in Soufriere is the Associationís new Vice
The meetingís major topic however, was the proposed
dolphin encounter facility planned for Tapion Bay by Minvielle and
Chastanet Ltd. and their partners, Dolphin Fantaseas.
The associationís membership unanimously agreed to
oppose the plan as being detrimental to both the dolphins and the
whale watch operators.
"One of the worst aspects of this venture" said
chairman Chris Hackshaw, "is that they propose to capture dolphins
in St. Lucian waters. These are the very same dolphins we take
people out to watch", he lamented.
St. Luciaís whale and dolphin watching industry is
one of the fastest growing components of the islandís nature tourism
sector. "These tours are in the top three sellers with all the tour
operators", said Hackshaw. "They go unmentioned, however, on the
Tourist Board web site!"
"At least 10 whale watch operators with boats
ranging in size from small pirogues to a purpose built motor
catamaran now take people out to see these mammals in the wild,"
vice-chairman Caroline Aimable told us, "and the benefits are
filtering down to many hundreds of people".
Members of the association, which was formed to
promote whale and dolphin watching as an addition to St. Luciaís
tourism product, are concerned that the proposed dolphin encounter
will detract significantly from their businesses.
"As you may know", explained Hackshaw, "any boat is
a significant investment. But when you look at the additional costs
such as maintenance, insurance, fuel, licences, training, salaries
and supplies, all the operators, large and small, have invested
heavily, and would not now like to see the benefits of this