- Although the environment watchdog rejected the project, local community leaders, Waa Kitivo Marine Conservancy chairman Mwatsofio Tsofio and Nyari Kikadini Beach Management Unit chairman Khamis Mwamrezi said benefits of the unique whale shark enclosure project were immense since proceeds from the investment would be shared with the community.
The whale shark captivity project at Waa has failed to get the green light from the environment watchdog.
In a letter to the project’s proponents, Seaquarium Ltd, the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) said that after consulting relevant agencies and stakeholders, it observed that the proposed project would deny the whale sharks their natural habitat by enclosing them in an artificial environment.
The idea was to capture wild whale sharks for public display. They would be moved to an enclosure for tourists to swim with at a fee. However, Nema rejected the project on grounds that the whale sharks are internationally recognised biological resources and are very important in maintaining a healthy marine ecosystem.
According to the Nema director-general, Prof Geoffrey Wahungu, the proponent failed to enter into an agreement with the Beach Management Unit (BMU) as stipulated in the Fisheries Act.
Prof Wahungu said that whale sharks are registered as a globally vulnerable species.
“Enclosing the sharks is not the most appropriate way to promote its conservation. Whale sharks may be studied or observed by tourists without necessarily having to be enclosed,” he said.