Considerations about regulations of boat-traffic off the south coast of Pico/Azores

For tourists, today whalewatching is one of the main reasons to visit the Azores. Already about 22 different species have already been sighted. But whalewatching can pose a serious threat to cetacean populations as it might cause stress and changes of the behavior patterns. This project shows a possibility to regulate the traffic of whalewatching-boats off the Southcoast of the island of Pico. Collacted data of 2004 and 2005 had been analyzed regarding frequency of species, observation area and observation time. Furthermore the registered behaviors had been noted and analyzed as the behavior towards the vessels is very important.
Due to this data 3 fixed routes are possible in the area. If there is a frequency of place and time on which the boats will appear, the cetaceans will get used to it and are free to decide wether they want stay away from the areas and therefore won't get disturbed. On the other hand they can contact the boats and us humans on their own if they want to. Because of the fixed routes stress for the animals will be avoided and they won't migrate. Thus on one hand the endangered animals will be protected and on the other the whalewatching-tourism will be guaranteed, which is an important economic factor for the people on the island of Pico and one of the most important of the Azores.
This project had been presented on a conference for aquatic mammals and might be a basis for discussions and considerations about the important topic of the whale's conservation.

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