Wednesday, May 02, 2007
Whale conservation: reaching out to the Caribbean
It is a well known and now undisputed fact that for a number of years the Japanese Government has taken advantage of the vulnerabilities of small island developing states to consolidate its position within the International Whaling Commission (IWC). At the Annual meeting of the IWC last year on the island of St Kitts, for example, the Japanese largely relied on conditionalities they had imposed on small island and other developing states to win by simple majority a resolution proposing the resumption of commercial whaling.
Public opinion polls commissioned by the WWF have shown that the Governments of the small island developing states who support Japan's whaling interests adopted these policies with no regard for public opinion and information.
In partnership with the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), Lord Ashcroft has just launched a TV ad and a website to reach out in the six Caribbean countries who have lately been supporting Japan's whaling interests systematically (Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent & the Grenadines.)
To attract sympathy, the advocates of commercial whaling argue that whales are eating too much fish, even though fisheries experts have shown that killing whales will not increase fish stocks. The decline of fish stocks will not decrease unless governments tackle overfishing and its root causes. The "whale-eat-fish" argument is akward particularly in the Caribbean, as whales visit that region to reproduce, not to feed.
Whale conservation advocates also emphasise that Whale Watching has become a great lucrative tourist opportinity in the Caribbean. In other words, there's more money to be made from keeping whales alive than from killing them.