SVG to end capture, killing of orcas, dolphins
April 7, 2017
SVG to end capture, killing of orcas, dolphins

The capture and killing of orcas and dolphins will soon become an offence in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

“We can’t allow this thing to continue, so [on April 5], the Cabinet took a decision, in line with our international obligations, to ban the capture and the killing of the orca (killer whale) and also the … long nose dolphin,” Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves said, as he addressed Parliament yesterday.

Gonsalves said the Attorney General has been instructed to see whether the legislation can be brought through a Statutory Rule and Order, which would have immediate effect, or if it would be necessary to bring a Bill to Parliament when the House next sits on May 18.

Government’s decision to institute the ban came after the killing of at least one orca was witnessed last week by a group of tourists who were on a whale watching tour off the leeward coast of St Vincent.

Gonsalves said, according to reports he had received, a fisherman, with a gun mounted on his speedboat, killed two orcas in full view of two boat loads of tourists from a cruise ship operated by Thomson Cruises, which had called at Port Kingstown with 1,800 visitors.

According to information, the visitors became very emotional and some returned to the cruise ship in tears. Reports are that the killing of the whale was photographed and videotaped by the guests, who then posted what they captured on social media.

The Prime Minister said Thomson Cruises have since cancelled their remaining whale watching tour of the season.

He said he raised the matter in Parliament, so that tourism stakeholders would know that the Government has responded very promptly to what transpired last week.

Commenting on the OMG morning show on Boom 106.9 FM radio station on Tuesday, Gonsalves said the vast majority of people in the fishing community of Barrouallie, the home of the black fish industry, are upset by what the fisherman did. He said he too is upset and although he likes the fisherman, he does not like what he did. He urged tourism stakeholders to understand the position of the Government and to have it transmitted.

“We are interested in conservation. One of the things which we shouldn’t allow is [for] our tourist friends to have a knee-jerk reaction. They should also listen to voices like the one I am speaking. It is important for us to say that we have our tradition and we need to keep our traditions. But we can’t have our traditions out of sync with the rest of the world, or have those traditions continue in a manner which is injurious to us…,” the Prime Minister said.

Gonsalves said there is an international ban on the killing of long nose dolphins and orcas (killer whales), which St Vincent and the Grenadines has signed to, but the new law will not affect the traditional harvesting of the pilot whale (black fish) or particular species of porpoise.

He said he has been assured by officials at the Fisheries Division and the fisherfolk from Barrouallie that the pilot whale can be easily distinguished from the orca and dolphin, so people cannot plead ignorance.

Gonsalves said he was told that just the week before the killing of the orcas, six pilot whales had been caught and that there is an abundance of the delicacy on the market.

“It is precisely that type of a wrongheaded action what would spur action to curb that kind of a wrong headedness,” he said.