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Chapter 5. CULTURAL AND SOCIO-ECONOMIC CRITERIA(Guidelines and Criteria Section B / Cultural and Socio-Economic Criteria) Nominated Areas must conform, where applicable, to at least one of the three Cultural and Socio-Economic Criteria. If applicable, describe how the nominated site satisfies one or more of the following three Criteria (Attach in Annex any specific and relevant documents in support of these criteria).
The French overseas territories, as regards to the West Indies (archipelago of Guadeloupe, Martinique, St. Barthélémy, St. Martin), have a particularly extensive maritime public domain, and are home to many terrestrial and marine protected areas (national parks, regional park, nature reserves, biosphere reserves, etc.). The valorization of their natural resources, biodiversity and wildlife, is a decisive advantage in the promotion of a sustainable nature tourism.
Overall diagnosis of the activity of whale watching in the French Antilles in 2010
Our studies have identified nine operators offering whale watching trips in the French Antilles. Table 3 indicates the number of operators for each island. The activity is growing in Martinique. In Guadeloupe, its evolution was moderated but it would seem that in light of investigations conducted during this study, its evolution can be intensified in the coming years (Table 3). Whale watching is not developed in the islands of St. Barthelemy and St. Martin. This finding may reflect the fact that the observations of dolphin populations are not regular. However, a structure of St. Martin is considering of developing this activity during the humpback whales season in the area.
Except one structure, all operators of Martinique reported to be growing and plan to invest in new boats and hire in the next 5 years. During the writing of this report, an operator has acquired a new boat and hired an employee to enable it to increase its capacity to carry passengers.
Table 3 : Number of ww structures in the French Antilles
The activity of whale watching started in Guadeloupe in 1998 with excursions organized from Bouillante by the diving club “les heures saines” accompanied by naturalist guides form the association “Evasion Tropicale”.
In Martinique, the activity began in 2003 and has grown strongly since the number of operators increased from 1 in 2003 to 6 in 2010 (Figure 8). Five more structures are planning to develop in the short term this activity and the “Direction de la Mer” (navy) considers that this activity could be a possible opportunity for a dozen commercial fishermen to change profession.
In Guadeloupe, growth has remained moderate since the evolution of the number of operators increased from 1 to 3 of 1998 to 2010.
However, according to surveys in this study, it appears that the activity of whale watching will evolve similarly in the two islands in the coming years. Indeed, if we take into account the operators who reported us that thez are thinking about developing a commercial whale watching, this is a total of 11 operators who may soon pursue the activity in Martinique and 8 in Guadeloupe.
The investigations focused only on tourist facilities offering boat trips (diving, sport fishing, day cruise). It is therefore difficult to estimate the future development in the short and long term activity.
Number of whale watchers and economic contributions
In total, the activity of whale watching attracts each year 18,500 whale watchers and brings in about 561,000 euros.
The activity is most developed in Martinique where there are near 14,500 whale watchers in 2009. The economic contributions are valued at 381,000 euros per year. The activity is growing, and will soon be implementing new structures.
Guadeloupe has received in 2009, about 4000 whale watchers, 3.5 times less than Martinique. The outings are also different compared to Martinique since all are accompanied by naturalist guides.
Compared to neighboring islands, Martinique has an activity of whale watching almost similar to the islands of Dominica and St. Lucia. The number of whale watchers is identical to Dominica. Economic contribution, however, are significantly lower for Martinique, this is due to the fact that the multi-thematic outputs (7430 whale watchers), we only counted a percentage of turnover reported by the operator (see previous paragraph).
Guadeloupe has an activity for its whale watching far less developed than its neighboring islands, but will probably soon be implementing new structures.
The trade of whale watching in St. Lucia is one of the most important in the Caribbean (O'Connor et al, 2009).
Table 5 : Comparison between whale watching in the French Antilles and in Dominica and St Lucia