The Association of Cetaceans South of Tenerife (ACEST) is a non-profit organisation of 14 whale and dolphin watching companies that operate on the south coast of Tenerife, in the Canary Islands. Among its members are WCA Partner Atlantic Eco Experience.
The objective of ACEST is to promote the responsible use of natural space, the ocean and ensure protection and conservation of marine resources. The collaborate with administrations, academic institutions and other associations related to the study of marine mammals. In addition they actively participate in working groups on the management of the Teno-Rasca marine strip. This area is located off the western coast of Tenerife and covers an area of 69,489.68 hectares. The area is a Special Conservation Area (ZEC), which forms part of the Natura 2000 network whose aim is to ensure the long-term survival of Europe’s most threatened species and natural habitats.
The companies that are part of ACEST are committed to comply with current legislation regarding encounters with cetaceans, and have adopted The Sustainability Chartered prepared by Turmiso de atenerife.
Since its conception, ACEST has positioned itself in favour of greater control within the whale and dolphin watching industry. They welcomed the recent news that the budget for monitoring within the ZEC Teno-Rasca Zone has been approved.
However, ACEST still has concerns about the number of permits for whale and dolphin watching boats being issued. They argue that the process is not sustainable, that there is no real obstacle to gaining a permit and that there is no upper limit to the number given, in fact the number has doubled over the last four years.
Recent reports by various research groups in the area have identified difficulties with the conservation of species such as sperm whale and short-finned pilot whale and that protective measures are not being applied. Recent at-sea sightings have increased the concerns of ACEST, with more new companies going out to see whales and dolphins, increasing the pressure on these species. Add to this the high number of animals being found with injuries associated with vessel strikes and the high percentage of newborn’s not making it beyond their first few months, and there are growing concerns for these populations.
ACEST are calling for the immediate and precautionary suspension of granting all new whale and dolphin sighting permits in Tenerife, as it is clear that the capacity of the system has been exceeded.