March 15, 2013

Bequia delegation on whale watching mission to Dominican Republic

Earlier this week, a team of persons from the whaling community in Bequia, including a seasoned whaler man, left our shores to head to the Dominican Republic to get a firsthand experience of whale watching.{{more}}

Gaston Bess, Javan Stowe, Alicia Lavia, Richard Ollivierre and head of the mission Kari Da Silva, left St Vincent on Tuesday.

Gaston Bess was part of many whale hunts and was part of a team that landed about eight whales over the years. Javan’s father is an active whaler today. Richard Ollivierre and Alicia Lavia both have close relatives in the whaling business and history. They are both active members of the Bequia Traditional Sailing Academy, which uses old whale boats to teach Bequia’s traditional sailing techniques to youngsters. The head of mission, Kari Da Silva, has just been assigned the role to head the special new unit set up in the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, Rural Transformation and Industry, designed to promote the linkages between Agriculture, Fisheries and Tourism.

The visit of the team is part of a St Vincent and the Grenadines National Trust initiative to promote whale watching, on the island of Bequia, traditionally known for whale hunting. The purpose of the mission is to expose this team to the first-hand experience of whale watching, because “seeing is believing”.

The team will be hosted in the Dominican Republic by Peter Sanchez, the administrator of the Dominican Republic Marine Whale Sanctuary, and facilitated by the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources of the Dominican Republic. The team will experience three different whale watching trips, in different parts of the sanctuary and in different types of boats, including the small boats of the Carenero Village. They will receive training in whale watching regulations and in whale watching marketing and economics. They will also have two free days to simply explore the beauty of the Dominican Republic.

The invitation for whalers and community members from Bequia to visit the Dominican Republic was extended to St Vincent and the Grenadines at the meeting of the International Whaling Commission in Panama last year, which was attended by National Trust Chairperson Louise Mitchell Joseph.

Peter Sanchez has indicated that he awaits the team with great excitement and that he has passed on the great news to the Buenos Aires group that he will be hosting the St Vincent and the Grenadines team. Whale watching is big business in most Latin American countries with coastlines, which all eagerly support St Vincent and the Grenadines embracing the conservation of whales.

The team returns to St Vincent on March 19.