KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, May 11, CMC – Agriculture ministers from the sub-regional Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) have ended a two-day meeting here calling on the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to relax its regulations regarding the hunting whales in the Caribbean.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines Agriculture Minister Saboto Caesar said he was seeking support from other Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries at the various IWC meetings to be held in Panama from June 11 to July 6.
“It will be remiss of me not to recall the drive for some member states of the IWC to give St. Vincent and the Grenadines zero quota on the population of over 10,000 humpback whales which were increasing at three per cent annually.
“This is only instance where the advice of the IWC’s scientific committee was ignored by the Commission,” he said, noting that “our whale hunt is a traditional one.
“But we do not cling to these traditions because of sentimentality,” he said, hoping for a rational debate on the issue given the fact that whales are hunted as part of the food security plans of the island rather than for commercial exercises.
“Given our sailing and hunting technology and forces of nature if we do not hunt when conditions favour the successful outcome there may not be another occasion presenting itself that season and we cannot afford the loss opportunity to provide healthy foods for so many persons.
“There ought to be a balance in this debate. We are not torturing animals to produce expensive luxury goods…neither are we producing cheap chemically laced animal protein by factory faming millions of pigs and chickens that are then exported by wealthy industrialised countries.
“We are only conducting a legitimate economic activity,” he said.
His Grenadian counterpart, Michael Dennis Lett said that the policies within the IWC have continued to affect small island states of the Caribbean.
He said the IWC meeting, should as a minimum, recognise the rights of all people to self determination.
“Moreover our goal is to ensure that we can achieve an equitable resolution on the many issues confronting the organisation which would solve the interest of ours,” he said, adding that the issue of food and nutrition security cannot be over stated.
“Consequently we are deeply disturbed when countries and organisations who no longer have a strategic interest in the ocean as an essential source of food would attempt to impede the rights of other nations who use the resources of the ocean on a sustainable basis for their food and nutrition security.
“Their actions must not be allowed to succeed, ‘he said, adding that “for us in the region it is even more fundamental recognising our limited land space and small economies that are vulnerable to natural disasters…
“We must take full advantage of the relatively enormous marine space which holds significant opportunities in contributing to the economic and social conditions of our people,” he add.
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