Brazil Creates Whale & Dolphin Sanctuary
Brazil, following closely in the footsteps of Chile from last September, has declared its entire exclusive economic zone (EEZ) as a cetacean (whale, dolphin and porpoise) sanctuary. Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva signed the federal decree on Dec. 18, 2008, creating the Brazilian Whale and Dolphin Sanctuary. The sanctuary covers the entire 8,000 km coastline extending out at least 200 nm from shore — approximately 3.5 million sq kms. The sanctuary decree specifically allows scientific research and tourism under applicable legislation, promotes the non-lethal use of whales and dolphins (whale watching), and seeks the conservation of all whale and dolphin species in the South Atlantic ocean basin as well as at international forums.
The Brazilian Commissioner to the International Whaling Commission (IWC) José Truda Palazzo, Jr., was quoted as saying that “the initiative sends a clear and powerful message to the international community in relation to Brazil’s commitment towards whale conservation, and also reinforces our campaign for a South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary to be established covering the entire oceanic basin.” Proposals for the South Atlantic Sanctuary have had widespread support but have failed to gain the necessary ¾ vote at recent IWC meetings.
“There are now more than 2 dozen countries and territories that have declared national EEZ sanctuaries for whales and dolphins,” said Erich Hoyt, head of WDCS’s Global Marine Protected Areas Campaign and author of Marine Protected Areas for Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises (Earthscan, 2005). “These national sanctuaries are important in terms of statements of intention by the countries and territories involved. They are not marine protected areas (MPAs) with management plans, but the hope is that they will be a starting point for conservation with further protection measures such as zoning and highly protected MPA declarations to follow.”