Responsible tourism: Vancouver Island whale watching tours, Canada
Our mission is to contribute to the conservation and well-being of the ecosystems, cultures, and communities that we visit and operate within during our Johnstone Strait and Blackfish Sound expeditions. We believe that helping our guests experience first-hand and understand some of the most spectacular wildlife and ecosystems on the Planet is key to their protection and preservation. We are active members of the North Island Marine Mammal Stewardship Association and work collectively with other organizations and operators to ensure our crew and guests are kept up to date on all matters of wildlife conservation in the area. This year the NIMMSA area of operation (Johnstone Strait and Blackfish Sound) is up for consideration as a World Whale Heritage site. We respect and abide by all 'Be-Whale-Wise' practices ("see a blow, go slow") and keep a safe distance from whales and marine wildlife.
Our Founder and President holds a PhD in Marine Ecosystem Ecology, and has dedicated his career and expertise to providing exceptional travel experiences that foster awareness and stewardship.
At the heart of our company is a desire to reduce our footprint on the Planet. As such, we integrate responsible ecotourism practices into our daily activities. We source and serve foods that are locally and sustainably grown, produced, raised or caught. We design itineraries that allow us to spend more time sailing in order to reduce our fuel consumption. Our onboard recycling and composting programs help to divert waste from landfills. Our promotional materials and transactions are mainly done over the Internet, and when necessary we use 100% recycled post consumer paper, saving trees, water, greenhouse gas emissions, and energy.
In 2015 we underwent a strict assessment with Green Tourism Canada, and received a GOLD rating! Green Tourism was one of the world’s first sustainable tourism certification programs and it remains highly respected today because of its comprehensive assessments. While many sustainable certification programs allow businesses to submit self-assessments, Green Tourism Canada certified businesses are assessed on-site by trained, third-party auditors who review everything from efficiencies to food sources.
In recognition of our achievement in responsible and sustainable travel, we were awarded the 2015 Tourism Vancouver Island Award for Sustainable Tourism, and the 2015 Canadian Tourism Award for Sustainable Tourism.
In each of the communities we visit, we partner with local people, communities, and organizations. We have protocol agreements with First Nations whose territories we visit, such as the community of Alert Bay and the U'Mista Cultural Centre. We work with hire local guides and businesses whenever possible. We partner with parks, conservation areas and governments and obtain permits for all limited-use areas we visit.
In 2015, our travel company was certified as “Carbon Neutral” by Offsetters and Synergy Enterprises. A third of our offset funds go towards supporting the Great Bear Rainforest Carbon Project. This project is the first of its kind in North America, balancing human well-being and ecological integrity through carbon finance. The Great Bear Rainforest Carbon Project is unique in that it is the only Improved Forest Management Project of its scale that has equal involvement by First Nations and the Provincial Government, strong legal and policy foundations, and robust data to support the quantification of ecosystem services. This project was of particular importance for us to support. With the Great Bear Rainforest being one of the key areas where we operate our expeditions, we are able to proudly take our guests into the communities and areas that our funds are contributing to support.