Introduction: protecting cetaceans

The aim of the Pelagos Sanctuary is to protect marine mammals and their habitats against all sources of disturbance: pollution, noise, high-speed vehicle racing, accidental catches, disturbances caused by tourist activity etc.
In France, the Ministerial Decree of July 1st, 2011, makes the intentional disturbance of marine mammals in French territorial waters a punishable offense. This decree has been modified by the Decree of September 3rd, 2020, which now defines every approach of the individuals to less than 100 meters in the marine protected areas as intentional disturbance.
In addition, the Decree 2021-172 of the Maritime Prefecture of the Mediterranean extends this principle to all French Mediterranean waters since July 6th, 2021. 

For more information on how the code of conduct is applied in the French waters of the Sanctuary, click here.
Cetaceans are also protected by international Agreements: the Barcelona, Bern and Bonn Conventions and ACCOBAMS (Conservation of Cetaceans of the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and Contiguous Atlantic Area).

Definition and Purpose

Organizing a rewarding whale watching experience

*In the specific case of Corsica and within the context of ‘fishing tourism’, this restriction may be subject to particular recommendations and exemptions

Rules for whale watching

Whale watching can, if poorly practiced, be a source of disturbance to cetaceans: respect their peace and quiet. Whether you are a pleasure boater, fisherman, whale watching operator or other user of the marine environment, the rules set out below apply both within the Sanctuary and beyond it.

Be alert to signs of disturbance

Viewing area (see illustration)

Steering a boat though the viewing area (300 m)

Boats within the viewing area

Special case when the animals come to the boat of their own accord


pdf  Download the observation form pdf (French version  or pdf Italian version )

pdf  Code of conduct