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High Quality Whale Watching® (HQWW®)

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Welcome to the section of Italian operators certified with High Quality Whale Watching® (HQWW®) Certificate.

Certified operators commit to follow an eco-responsible approach during their whale watching activities.

CIMA Research Foundation is the Italian partner of ACCOBAMS in charge of delivering the HQWW® certificate in Italy.

The implementation of the Certificate in Italy started in 2019 within the framework of the EcoSTRIM project (link), thanks to the funds of the INTERREG Italy-France Maritime Program 2014-2020 of the EU.


Whale Watching

Whale watching is a commercial tourism activity consisting in a vessel-based naturalistic excursion during which cetaceans are observed in their natural environment. The continuous growth of people interested in marine mammal observation into the wild has led to a significant increase in this economic sector within marine tourism. Globally, scientists, governments and the companies are evaluating the potential impact of whale watching, in order to identify and share best practices for conducting this activity responsibly and sustainably.

Here the link to access the guide created by the International Whaling Commission that deals with the protection of cetaceans worldwide:


The High Quality Whale Watching® Certificate was created to oversee this increasingly expanding business and ensure quality service. It is an ACCOBAMS registered trademark and it has been developed in collaboration with the Pelagos Agreement

The certificate identifies the operators who are committed to operate in respect of the environment and animals. The accreditation is on a voluntary basis: any operator can apply for the Certificate to the national entity in charge of delivering the certificate. Obtaining the certificate is strongly recommended to ensure a certified quality service including the respect of a code of good conduct to approach cetaceans at sea.

To learn more about the certificate, visit the official pages of the agreements: Pelagos Sanctuary and ACCOBAMS


Operators who wish to obtain the HQWW® Certificate will have to:

  • undertake a training program ;
  • commit to comply with the Code of Good conduct to approach the cetaceans;
  • commit to conduct educational/awareness activities during the trips;
  • commit to contribute to research by sharing sighting data;
  • guarantee the presence during the excursion of at least one member of the crew who successfully attended the training program;

The following activities are not compatible with the HQWW® Certificate:

  • swimming with cetaceans;
  • using airborne detection systems to locate cetaceans (e.g. planes or drones);
  • combining any form of fishing with cetacean watching;
  • feeding cetaceans;

The 2-days training program covers:

  • Identification, physiology and study of cetacean populations in the Mediterranean
  • Legal issues on species conservation, ACCOBAMS and Pelagos presentations
  • Code of Conduct
  • Scientific protocol of observations to be applied by operators
  • Presentation and identification of other marine species
  • Noise and pollution: issues and how to limit the impacts

In order to successfully complete the training, participants must attend all sessions and must pass the final test, consisting in 40 closed-ended (a maximum of 5 errors is allowed).


Select a region to see search for italian certified operators.


Common bottlenose dolphin
(Tursiops truncatus)

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Cuvier's beaked whale
(Ziphius cavirostris)

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Short-beaked common dolphin
(Delphinus delphis)

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Fin whale
(Balaenoptera physalus)

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Long-finned pilot whale
(Globicephala melas)

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Risso's dolphin
(Grampus griseus)

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Sperm whale
(Physeter macrocephalus)

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Striped dolphin
(Stenella coeruleoalba)

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