The Department of Conservation welcomes the first North Island business to sign up to DOC’s SMART Operator programme to minimise the impacts on whales, dolphins and seals of tourism and recreational boating around them.
SMART stands for Sustainable Marine Mammal Actions in Recreation and Tourism and SMART Operators lead by example in undertaking responsible marine mammal viewing activities to protect the wildlife.
Tauranga based Dolphin Seafaris is the latest operator to achieve SMART certification and the first for the North Island.
Tourism businesses can become SMART-accredited through their staff undergoing DOC training on the Marine Mammals Protection Regulations, by guaranteeing responsible advertising and by helping to educate the public about best practice when boating around marine mammals.
DOC Tauranga Marine Ranger Karl McCarthy says it is great to see the Bay of Plenty business Dolphin Seafaris take a lead in responsible marine mammal viewing.
“Having trained and experienced tourism operators that know when, where and how to view marine mammals is a big win for the animals and people wanting to view them responsibly. It helps foster boating behaviour that reduces pressures on marine mammals.”
The SMART Operator programme has been running for five years with Abel Tasman National Park, Marlborough Sounds and Akaroa tourist operators already signed up to it. DOC intends to extend the SMART Operator programme to other parts of the country in the future.