Organizers: Charlie Huveneers1, Eric Clua2, Lauren Meyer1, Kirin Apps3, Douglas Seifert4, Elena Salim Haubold5, Rick MacPherson6 & Ian Campbell7

Affiliations: 1/ Flinders University, Australia; 2/ CRIOBE – USR 3278 CNRS EPHE UPVD, PSL, Labex Corail, Moorea, French Polynesia; 3/ Southern Cross University, Australia; 4/ Global Shark Diving; 5/ Shark Business;  6/ Sustainable Shark Diving, Pelagia Consulting; 7/ WWF South Pacific, Fiji


Lead contact: Charlie Huveneers, Eric Clua, Rick MacPherson & Ian Campbell

Description : Marine wildlife tourism has experienced rapid expansion in the past two decades with numerous opportunities for humans to interact with wildlife. Such expansion has resulted in concerns related to the potentially detrimental effects it can have on the wildlife and ecosystems it targets, while proponents describe education, conservation awareness, and psychological health and economic benefits linked to the opportunity of observing wildlife in its natural environment. The growing popularity of marine tourism suggests that human aspirations to interact with these species are unlikely to subside in the foreseeable future. Therefore, a multi-disciplinary framework to assess and manage the effects on marine species is likely to be of increased significance as tourism opportunities continue to develop. The aim of this session is to bring together scientists from a broad range of disciplines and other stakeholders such as managers, NGOs, and tourism operators to (1) advance our understanding of the biological, ecological, ecosystem, socio-economic, legal, safety, and conservation implications of this growing industry; and (2) to identify gaps of information that managers and tourism operators needs to ensure the long-term sustainability of marine wildlife tourism. The integration of such multi-disciplinary perspective will help towards ensuring adequate management of wildlife tourism in the marine environment. Specifically, we welcome talks on: 1/ Assessing the effects of wildlife tourism on the target species (e.g., ecological or biological effects using biotelemetry, biochemical tracers, measure of abundance); 2/ Improving our understanding of the response of non-target species to wildlife tourism; 3/ Public perception and social value of wildlife tourism; 4/ Economic importance of wildlife tourism; 5/ Code-of-conduct or best practice guides; 6/ The role of market forces, consumer reviews, and increased public scrutiny on wildlife tourism (e.g. need for social licence); 7/ Current management framework to minimise the effect of wildlife tourism; 8/ Multi-disciplinary approach to managing wildlife tourism.

Expected Audience : The increasing amount of wildlife tourism opportunities and recent published reviews on the ecological aspects of wildlife tourism indicate a growing interest in the effect of this industry. Such reviews have also called for more research on the socio-economic aspect of the industry and to ensure links and collaboration between the various disciplines involved in the management of this industry. This session is aimed to bring together and be of interest to (1) a broad range of scientists including biologists, ecologists, social scientists, economists, and will attract students, early-career and established researcher alike; (2) managers of wildlife tourism operations who are seeking for scientific support to improve and implement appropriate regulations and legal frameworks of these activities; (3) non-governmental organisations who are increasingly interested in promoting eco-certification and ensuring sustainable practices, and that economic benefits flow to local businesses and people; and (4) tourism operators and business owners as the opportunities to partner with the research or conservation community will lead to mutually beneficial outcomes. Since wildlife tourism is occurring worldwide (e.g., Europe, USA, Bahamas, Egypt, Philippines, French Polynesia, Mexico, Belize, Hawaii, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa). It is expected to attract scientists and managers from all around the world. In addition, considering the recently published reviews, increased interest in wildlife tourism, broad multi-disciplinary relevance, and global relevance of the topic, we expect a sizeable audience.