With whalewatching activities and associated expenditures increasing annually, governments in coastal countries possess a large vested interest in the continued growth and protection of whale populations and the associated tourism. In 2007 and 2008, a survey investigating whalewatching tourists' attitudes toward key cetacean conservation issues, such as legislative protection, whaling, and captivity, was administered to volunteer participants at Blackbird Caye, Turneffe Atoll, Belize (n=166). With regards to attitudes towards cetacean conservation issues, the majority of participants considered dolphins and whales to be under protected or only slightly protected (36.4%; 45.1%, respectively) and expressed that marine mammal conservation laws and policies were very important (83.1%). In addition, 95% of participants expressed opposition against the hunting of whales (68.5% strongly opposed and 26.5% opposed), and the majority of participants were against keeping dolphins in captivity no matter if the dolphins were kept in a dolphinarium or a semi-natural habitat confined by nets (78.1%; 66.9%, respectively). Furthermore, 93.3% of participants stated that they preferred to observe dolphins in the wild rather than in a captive setting, whether semi-natural or a dolphinarium. In addition to allowing a comparison of the attitudes and concerns of whalewatchers in Belize with other surveyed areas, this survey provides data that could assist the Belizean government with conservation-oriented decision-making. For example, 70.4% of participants felt that it was very important that Belize has a strong commitment to dolphin conservation and of those same participants, an additional 27.8% of participants ranked cetacean conservation as important. Additionally, 68.1% of participants said that they would actively boycott visiting pro-whaling countries and more specifically, 59.5% of participants stated that they would boycott visiting Belize if the country supported whaling, which has implications for Belize's position and policies at the International Whaling Commission.
|Publisher||George Mason University|
|Department||Department of Environmental Science and Policy|
|Degree||Master of Science|
|University||George Mason University|
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