First permit to visit concentrations of whale sharks issued

DOHA: Ministry of Environment and Climate Change has issued first temporary permit to Qatar Tourism for this season to visit concentrations of whale shark in the northeastern waters of the country.

This is within the framework of the existing coordination between the Ministry and Qatar Tourism to enhance State’s vision of supporting ecotourism by allowing the public to visit sensitive environmental sites and see the wildlife in them without harming them.

The move aims at spreading awareness and highlighting the efforts of Qatar in preserving biodiversity and protecting endangered species.

The permit included general requirements related to preserving the marine environment, adhering to the requirements and laws relevant to the country, and not harming whale shark in any way.

The permit also included special requirements regulating visitors’ relationship with the whale shark, taking all safety and security precautions, not approaching fish in a harmful way, not shedding light on them directly and not chasing them.

The efforts of the Ministry to protect whale sharks began in 2011, when the ministry started a study on whale shark populations, and during the years of study, more than 420 whale sharks were identified.

Tracking devices were installed on a group of whales, and samples of fish eggs were analyzed and their genetic fingerprint was studied.

Several aerial surveys of whale shark populations were also conducted during the aforementioned study, and the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change is the only agency authorized to issue such permits in coordination with the concerned authorities in the country.

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