Oslob whale sharks – Preconceived ideas about provisioning?

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... Livelihoods and their connection to the provision of finance to protect whale sharks and marine reserves and reduction in fishing effort are examined by Lowe and Tejada [6]. Recent studies claiming negative impacts of Oslob Whale Sharks on the ecology of the whale sharks are examined by Meekan and Lowe [21,65]. ...
... Overall, a review of published data by Meekan and Lowe [21,65] concluded that there was little solid evidence that provisioning may affect whale sharks through altering behaviour or by increasing residency through time. Thus, there is no empirical basis to argue that provisioning of whale sharks has any negative effects on the ecology of whale sharks at Oslob. ...
Livelihoods are a crucial factor in sustainable integrated coastal management and can bring big payoffs for people and coral reef resources but their role in encouraging collective engagement in management is not well understood. Dive tourism is often cited for its capacity to provide livelihoods to reduce reliance on coral reef resources, however, there is little evidence of its ability to achieve this goal. We use key stakeholder interviews with artisanal fishers, their community, local government and politicians and the sustainable livelihoods framework to study Oslob Whale Sharks, the most financially successful and controversial community based dive tourism site in the world. Oslob Whale Sharks has generated income from ticket sales of approximately US$18.4 m over five years. We found that Oslob Whale Sharks has created alternate livelihoods for 177 fishers, and diversified livelihoods throughout the community, reducing fishing effort and changing livelihood strategies away from reliance on coral reef resources. Livelihoods from Oslob Whale Sharks increase food security for fishers and their families and improve the wellbeing of their community. Livelihoods have galvanised fishers and their community to change behaviour and collectively engage in management. Our findings indicate connection between livelihoods and the provision of finance to protect whale sharks and manage five marine reserves, indicating that fishers and local government are protecting the whale sharks and coral reef resources their livelihoods depend on.
This study explored the ethics of provisioning wildlife to enhance tourist interactions at a whale shark tourism site in Oslob, Philippines. TripAdvisor comments (n = 947) and tourist surveys (n = 761) were used to better understand tourists' perceptions of whale shark provisioning in Oslob. The ethical decisions made were then critically assessed using utilitarian and animal welfare ethical philosophies. The majority of respondents supported whale shark provisioning, despite many being aware of the ethical complications of provisioning sharks for tourism purposes. Respondents justified their participation in this activity using mainly economic, human enjoyment, and animal welfare arguments. A utilitarian assessment of the potential costs and benefits of this activity highlighted the gaps in our knowledge regarding the economic and social benefits of this activity, as well as the negative impacts on the sharks’ welfare. Until such analyses are completed, significant ethical questions remain regarding the provisioning of these sharks.