Dominica Update
Sperm whales, which are present year-round, are definitely the main attraction for whale and dolphin watching tours in Dominica

Government to Establish First Ever Sperm Whale Reserve

The Government of Dominica, in collaboration with National Geographic – Pristine Seas, has announced the establishment of a Sperm Whale Reserve. The announcement came at a press conference held on Monday, November 13, 2023, at the State House Conference Center. The Sperm Whale Reserve will run from the north to south of Dominica along the west coast of Dominica and will expand over 788 square kilometers. This announcement comes as Government places the necessary initiatives and programmes to maximize the earnings of the blue economy.

CEO of CREAD, Her Excellency Francine Baron, notes that this reserve forms part of the Government’s resilient framework which aims to build a climate resilient nation targeting all sectors of the economy.

“We have developed a resilient framework that includes not only ensuring the resilience of our institutional system, physical structures and economy, but also importantly speaks to the resilience of our eco-system such as increasing our healthy coral reef coverage, expansion of our  protected forest areas and sustainable agricultural practices. While we have sought to make ourselves more resilient and improve the lives of our people, we are also cognizant of our responsibility to protect the habitat and lives of the animals that inhabit both our land and marine space,” she stated.

CEO of CREAD, Her Excellency Francine Baron

Ambassador Baron says Government is pleased to partner with National Geographic to further strengthen the protection of the sperm whales population. She further explains, “We are very fortunate to have over fifty families of sperm whales who choose Dominica’s waters as their home. We have lived in harmony with the whales for several decades and consider them as part of us and they have also formed an important component of our tourism product. In our thrust to approach resilience in a holistic manner, we recognize the need to also ensure the resilience of our marine eco-systems and in particular to ensure the protection of the majestic sperm whales. We have been pleased to partner with National Geographic – Pristine Seas, Dynamic Planet and the Dominica Sperm Whale Project in examining ways in which we can strengthen the protection of our whales.”

Founder of National Geographic Explorer in Residence and Pristine Seas, Dr. Enric Sala, says he was impressed with the resilience plan of the Government of Dominica to safeguard the eco system. He added, “We know that the sperm whales are part of the climate resilience machine of Dominica, because they help to sequester carbon in the deep ocean. So there is a need to restore the population because the whales there are, the more carbon sequestration they can help which contributes to the climate resilience of Dominica.

[Dominica] is one of the few places in the world where you can see and swim with sperm whales reliably throughout most of the year, so Dominica also has an opportunity to develop a world class operation that with a lower volume of people, brings revenue that will help offset the cause so that eventually the reserve will pay for itself, the whales can pay for themselves.”

Dr. Enric Sala, Founder of National Geographic Explorer in Residence and Pristine Seas

Meanwhile, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries, Blue and Green Economy, Hon. Roland Royer says this Sperm Whale Reserve falls in line with Government’s development agenda having been announced in the 2023/2024 annual budget address as part of Government’s plan to develop the blue economy. He assured the Government’s firm commitment to the establishment of the first Sperm Whale Reserve in the world and added: “As such, a critical component of our National Economic Development Agenda includes the holistic development of the sustainable ocean based economy, what we refer to as the blue economy. By promoting the sustainable use of our marine resources, particularly its unique eco system and rich biodiversity, we will position Dominica as a country known for adopting healthy lifestyles in harmony with nature; promoting sustainable consumption and production patterns and building resilience that reduces disaster risks and adapts to or mitigate climate change impacts. In the 2023/2024 annual budget address, Government gave a firm commitment to establish the blue economy and to introduce appropriate legislation to govern national frameworks for the regenerative development of our marine resources.”

“By creating a safe haven for our sperm whale families, we are not only helping them and the ocean, we are contributing directly to improving and sustaining life below water, protecting our local economy and the benefits that extend to our local fishers, tour operators and the people around the world while building resilience to the impacts of climate change.”

Hon. Roland Royer, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries, Blue and Green Economy

Minister Royer explained that the Dominica Sperm Whale Reserve will become the first marine protected area designed specifically to preserve the sperm whales marine habitat, critical for them to thrive in the pristine environment along the west coast of Dominica.

Read the full announcement here.