Tonga curtails licensing for whale watching tour operators

This story by RNZ.co.nz is republished with permission.

Tonga has limited the number of whale watching and swimming licences it issues after a record number of applications.

Tourism minister, ‘Akosita Lavulavu, said she believed restrictions were necessary as both a conservation measure and to preserve the country’s whale industry.

Matangi Tonga reports that only seven licences have been issued for Tongatapu, 20 for Vava’u, 10 for Ha’apai, and four for ‘Eua.

Recent research has found an increasing number of boats going near mother and baby whales was disturbing their natural patterns in a critical period of a baby whale’s life.

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