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A workshop for tour guides and captains of touristic vessels took place in Kamchatka

16 june 2021
Scientists from the Far East Russia Orca Project (FEROP) told representatives from the regional tourist industry about the behavior of marine mammals and rules of conduct around them.

Kamchatka tourist industry is steadily developing, making respect for nature and wild animals a vital issue. Wild species observation tours are an essential part of sea voyages in Kamchatka. Orcas, Steller sea lions, whales, and sea otters draw tourists’ attention. However, human behavior around animals can sometimes hardly be called correct and respectful.

“Scientists and environmentalists were promoting the idea of such workshop for a while. In spring, we brought up the issue of respectful behavior towards marine mammals at a meeting with the Governor of Kamchatka who fully approved our initiative. The workshop became possible thanks to supporting from WWF-Russia, Kinder®, and the administration of Kamchatka krai,” said Nina Kim, deputy head of the Scientific Department of the Kronotsky State Reserve.

There is no current federal legislation to protect pinnipeds at the rookeries and cetaceans at their feeding and breeding sites. But the regional rules of conduct are being developed. While merely advisory now, the rules may become a legally binding instrument in the future.

“The rules of conduct mention the minimal approach distance and the vessel speed near the groups of marine mammals. The rules also emphasize that tourists must not scare, chase, surround, or block animals should they try to leave the area. It is important to understand that following these rules is mutually beneficial for both people and animals. It is the essence of environmentally responsible tourism,” said Sergey Rafanov, the head of Kamchatka/Bering Sea Ecoregional Office of WWF-Russia.