Our Readers' Opinions
March 31, 2017
Sustainable use of marine resources

by Edwin Snagg

The legitimate taking of a humpback whale on Wednesday, March 15 in Bequia by traditional whalers has sparked a series of comments by those who are opposed to whaling in any form. This activity takes place under the IWC convention on the regulation of whaling. The international body agreed by consensus that SVG be granted a quota of four humpback whales per annum for a period of five years.

The scientific committee of the IWC informed the general body at its plenary meeting that the take will not harm the stock and is sustainable as the annual increase of the stock is approximately 300; since the moratorium the overall stock has shown an increase of all species of whales.

Despite the legitimacy the anti-whalers and their local lobbyists continue the unabated onslaught on various fronts.

It is of note that the Bequia hunt is classed as aboriginal and based on its traditional cultural and historical nature. The lobbyists proclaim that there is no need for the hunt and Vincentians prefer chicken so they don’t need whale meat for food …??

The 50 ft length, 28 ft girth animal was reduced to skeleton in less than 3 hours. An estimated 30,000 kg of whale meat or 66,000 lbs were released into the community of Bequia at a value of EC$5.00 per pound.

There are other factors beside food security for our people that are indeed bothersome, the very erosion of our traditions and culture by developed countries and powerful rich NGOs and their local reps.

The very use of our marine resources for the sustainable utilization of Vincentians is threatened and brought into serious focus once again. The anti whaling countries put great emphasis on their diplomatic approach and use it to the fullest extent. The leading nations in this regard dispatch their delegations and launch a proverbial siege on OECS member states during the months preceding the IWC biannual meetings. This approach is effective with the threats of negative effects on the relationship between our small island states and the powerhouses — it is more than enough to grovel in the dust. The configuration of the world’s largest and richest against the weakest and smallest continues to be evident in the IWC and other international entities and systems.

A look at the pronouncements show there is an overwhelming active anti- whaling public relations campaign in the Caribbean that goes virtually unchallenged. Large whole page ads regularly appear in the print media in the OECS and directly target government policy on whaling matters. There is the online campaign and the cable channels to which Caribbean people are exposed. There should be no need to justify food, culture or traditions as we do at the IWC quota meetings.

The region has to be mindful of the threats we face. The delicacies that we have enjoyed are now on the lists of CITES namely conch and the spiny lobster. It may just be a matter of time before a face is placed on them. The Buenos Aires groups who are at the forefront are the principal exporters of canned meats, I guess animals are not killed in the production.

Within recent times many initiatives have been advanced by NGOs that are embraced by governments, which limit the marine environment within which many depend on for food on their tables.

In the interest of our fisherfolk and the users of our marine resources there must be vigilance in their right to eat and live, we are mindful of the preservation of our marine resources we are capable of the management of the same as we have been for generations.