The 2nd Whale Shark International Conference welcomed more than 200 guests representing 40 different countries. The event, coordinated by Yum Balam Flora and Fauna Protected Area, follows on from first International Whale Shark conference celebrated in Perth, Australia, 2005. The objectives of this meeting are to promote scientific research, conservation initiatives and sustainable practices that benefit local communities.
More than 40 countries who attended the International Conference for the Whale Shark have recognised the work that CONANP’s (National Commission for Natural Protected Areas) have been doing for the conservation of this beautiful creature.
Because of the positive impact and economic benefits the conservation of the whale shark brings, the Mexican delegates, with the consent of the other 40 countries represented, have now formally established the 30th August as the International Day of the Whale Shark.
In Quintana Roo, whale shark research began in 2003. Since then, different stakeholders have collaborated to elaborate the Whale Shark Management Plan. Simultaneously, sustainable use has been encouraged through guided tours. The number of tourists increased from 300 up to 16,000 in a 6 year-period (2002 – 2008).
At the moment, 98% of the beneficiaries from the whale shark encounters are local inhabitants from Holbox, Chiquila and Isla Mujeres. The rural cooperatives are the direct beneficiaries making it possible to re-invest in projects that support environmental and cultural improvement in the area.