On the morning of Saturday 14th at Halaevalu wharf a special function was held to mark the Tonga National Day of Action for whales.
Olive Andrews from the International Fund for Animal Welfare of Samoa was here to launch a report for IFAW and Operations Cetaces June 2008.
Paula Tatafu was the guest of honour and launched the report and he gave special thanks for the IFAW Organisation and also whale operators of Vava’u making this a special occasion. There are 12 whale operators in the group.
Whale watching in the Kingdom of Tonga continues to contribute strongly to the country's economy, with whales an iconic species for the tourism industry.
In 2006, there were more than 9,800 whale watch participants in Tonga, representing annual average growth of 20% since 1998. These whale watchers generated a total estimated expenditure of approximately Tongan pa’anga (TOP) $3.82 million (USD 1.89 million).
Operators in Vava’u work together to avoid harassing mother and calf pairs and manage the welfare of whales. Tourists paying a significant amount of money will be sensitive to the mass market model of whale swimming/watching, referred the IFAW report.