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Code of Conduct: Interministerial Decree

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Code of Conduct: Interministerial Decree

Strengthening Protection for Marine Megafauna

In a landmark move aimed at safeguarding marine megafauna, the Ministers of Tourism and Handicrafts, Fisheries and the Blue Economy, and Environment and Sustainable Development convened at the Radisson Blu Ambodivona on February 15, 2024, to sign an interministerial decree.

Recognizing the pivotal role of marine megafauna in attracting seaside recreation and fostering ecotourism, the decree represents a concerted effort to preserve Madagascar’s rich marine biodiversity. Minister of Tourism, Joël Andriamandranto, highlighted Madagascar’s collaboration with specialized agencies to promote whale-watching activities, underscoring its significant economic potential for coastal communities. Notably, commercial whale shark watching ventures in Nosy Be alone attract approximately 500 enthusiasts annually, generating an estimated 40,000 USD per individual per year.

However, concerns over the potential for mass tourism to compromise conservation efforts prompted the enactment of stringent guidelines outlined in the decree. These measures include the establishment of observation charters and codes of conduct aimed at ensuring the respectful and sustainable interaction with marine megafauna, including mammals and sea turtles.

Central to the decree is the regulation of commercial activities, with provisions restricting observation to small boats not exceeding 500 horsepower and accommodating a maximum of 20 individuals. Additionally, night excursions at sea are strictly prohibited, alongside the discharge of harmful substances into the marine environment and any form of feeding or touching marine species.

Furthermore, swimming and water sports during observation events are categorically prohibited, while the observation of adult whales is limited to a maximum duration of one hour at a minimum distance of 100 meters.

Emphasizing the integration of these measures into a broader marine ecotourism strategy, Minister Andriamandranto reiterated the government’s commitment to promoting responsible and sustainable nautical tourism while ensuring the long-term conservation of Madagascar’s marine treasures.

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