"I appeal to you to not destroy the phenomena of 17 whale sharks in Gorontalo. Because as we intensify tourism, we must not injure the whale sharks while we watch, approach and appreciate them," she said here Saturday.
She urged visitors and locals to keep a distance from the whale sharks, whose frequent sightings have attracted tourists.
Under the decree of the maritime affairs and fisheries ministry No. 18 Year 2013, whale sharks are protected to ensure their preservation.
Whale shark sightings, however, are still allowed to become a tourist attraction as long as they are carried out by paying attention to shark preservation.
Minister Susi Pudjiastuti expressed her support towards developing the whale shark sightings as a tourist attraction and she presented a book on guidelines on whale shark sightings.
The minister visited the Olele Marine Park located near Botubarani, held dialogs with local fishermen, and presented financial assistance to fishermen communities in the region.
Maritime Spatical Management Director General Brahmantya Satyamurti has urged local communities to help preserve whale sharks as a tourist attraction.
"This tourism must be supervised by local communities. How could we step up tourism without having to disturb whale sharks? Excessive number of boats could cause stress on whale sharks," he added.