Scientific Literature: Searchable Database

Recommendations for Sustainable Cetacea-based Tourism in French Territories: A Review of the Industyr and Current Management Actions


Chazot, Josephine; Hoarau, Ludovic; Carzon, Pamela; Wagner, Jeanne




Tourism in Marine Environments




ecotourism, France, La Reunion, management, regulations, Tourism, whale watching


Whale-watching activities provide important socio-economic benefits for local communities and constitute powerful platforms incentive for marine mammals protection or more broadly marine environments. However, these activities can cause adverse effects on targeted populations, with considerable downside associated risks of injuries and fatality for whale-watchers during in-water interactions. France with its overseas territories has the second largest exclusive economic zone, in which more than half of existing cetacean species are encountered. In these territories, recreational and commercial whale-watching, including swim-with cetacean activities, have recently developed. Yet, few studies focused on these activities and their associated impacts across French territories, leading to an unclear assessment of the situation. To address this issue, we reviewed cetaceans occurrence within the French EEZ, whale-watching industry, targeted species, local management of marine mammal-based tourism activities and regulations in France Mainland and some overseas territories (Reunion Island, Mayotte and French Polynesia). Forty eight species are encountered in the French EEZ, and 15 are targeted by whale-watching activities. A total of 185 operators, including 34% offering swim-with cetaceans tours, offered trips in France and overseas in 2019. While several more or less restrictive regulations exist locally, our results indicate that French’s national legal framework for marine mammals protection remains inadequate and insufficient to cope with the recent development of this activity. As conservation biologists, managers and stakeholders from these French territories, we cooperated to provide general guidelines for a sustainable development of whale-watching at national scale. We urge (1) to legally acknowledge and regulate whale-watching commercial activities; (2) to create a national legal framework regarding whale-watching and swim-with marine mammals practices, while accounting for local distinctiveness and disparities across regions; (3) to conduct more research to evaluate local short and long-term impacts on targeted marine mammals populations as well as the socio-economic benefits ; 4) to reinforce synergetic relations between the different stakeholders.
← Back to Resources

Share this page!


Share this page with your friends on Social Media: