16/07/2008The 2nd Whale Shark International Conference welcomes 200 experts from 20 different nationalities in Holbox Island

Holbox, Quintana Roo (July 15th, 2008).- The 2nd Whale Shark International Conference welcomes more than 200 guests from 20 different countries. The event will take place from 15th to 20th of July 2008, in Holbox, an island located in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, 170 Km northwest from Cancun.

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.

A range of institutions and speakers will present their work and conclusions over the course of five days and during fifty five talks, six posters and three videos. Speakers are bringin their expertise from many countries, including India, Kenya, Australia, Cuba, United States, Mozambique, Switzerland, Canada, Denmark, Philippines, Costa Rica, Bangladesh, Germany, Brazil, Belize, Honduras, Taiwan, Seychelles, Guatemala, Panama and UK.

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).

Currently, CONANP’s (National Commission for Natural Protected Areas) challenges are the approval of the Mexican Norm for the Non-Extractive Use of the Whale Shark and the expansion of the Yum Balam Flora and Fauna Natural Protected Area and re-categorization as a Biosphere Reserve.

At the moment, 98% of the beneficiaries from the whale shark encounters are local inhabitants from Holbox, Chiquila and Isla Mujeres. All of them have previously received safety training, as well as in biology, in order to guarantee the quality service for the visitors.

In view of the precautionary principle for the species conservation, Dirección General de Visa Silvestre (Wildlife Secretariat) has established a limit of 140 licenses in total, for 2008.

Whale shark non-extractive use develops in Holbox, Lázaro Cárdenas municipality, where it is integrated into the recent Punta Verde Community Network for Alternative Tourism. This initiative allows the visitor to go through a forest and sea route, managed by 14 cooperatives from 7 Mayan villages. During the tour, rural cooperatives are the direct beneficiary from the services provided, making possible to re-invest in projects that support environmental and cultural improvement in the area.

To visit PuertaVerde please contact to puertaverde@puertaverde.com.mx
Photo CONANP Domino Whale Shark Proyect