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Whale Conservation Meeting

Travel & news discussion about Trinidad & Tobago

Whale Conservation Meeting

Postby KarenS » Fri Apr 21, 2006 8:04 am

From Caribbean Net News: "PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad: Caribbean and international environmentalists meeting in Trinidad will try to develop a Caribbean Non-governmental Organisation (NGO) strategy and action plan ahead of the much anticipated International Whaling Commission (IWC 58) meeting in St Kitts this June.

Participants from 12 Caribbean nations began a two-day meeting on whale conservation on Wednesday with Dr Joth Singh, of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) calling for Caribbean governments to reconsider their 'strong pro-whaling position' internationally.

Dr Singh said this model is inappropriate for the region but is perpetuated because of the 'vote buying' practises of Japan which uses its economic power to secure the votes of poor, developing countries such as those in the Caribbean.

He said the region must recognise the value of the natural environment and the contribution to tourism, adding that the opportunity cost for whaling and pro-whaling advocacy in the region ranges from negative publicity to loss of tourists who are concerned about environmental issues.

The Trinidad-born Dr Singh said the arguments advanced by Caribbean governments in support of their pro-whaling stance ‚Äúare linked to issues relating to economic development and sustainable development.‚ÄĚ

The IFAW Director of Wildlife and Habitat Protection said whales are facing their greatest threat since the imposition of a moratorium 20 years ago.

In additional to commercial whaling and marine pollution, Dr Singh said whales are also adversely affected by ocean noise operation associated with oil exploration, particularly in Trinidad.

He said IFAW was opposed to commercial whaling not only on conservation grounds but also on grounds of cruelty.

'The cruelty associated with it is phenomenal and IFAW therefore takes a very, very strong position on the issue of cruelty and we are promoting the fact that whaling must stop because it is a cruel endeavour,' Dr Singh said.

He however said regional governments have not engaged the debate on commercial whaling 'in any sensible way'.

'But I will tell you, Caribbean countries their names have been bantered around in the international community. And therefore we have an obligation to ensure that if we participate in this international negotiate that we do that in a very sensible way ‚Äď protecting our own image in the international community.'

'I think through this meeting I will like to see the alternative to hunting developed and that certainly is hinged on whale watching operations,' Dr Singh said.

Whale-watch tour operators from the Windward Islands spoke on Wednesday of the potential of economic benefits of the teething industry in the Caribbean while Dr Singh examined 'scientific' whaling practised by Japan versus non-invasive whale research.

The tour operators said whale watching puts 'head in beds' in Caribbean hotels even as the tourism dollar benefits the entire community including restaurateurs, taxi-operators and other groups of residents who derive a livelihood from the tourism industry.

It was suggested that the main threat to a healthy population of whales in the Caribbean come predominantly from human activities, including untrained whale watch operators and government policies.

It was the general consensus that whale hunting and watching do not coexist very well and this week's meeting would identify the specific strategies that can be used to address the concerns of conservation groups such as IFAW at the St Kitts meeting."
Karen for Caribbean-On-Line.com
KarenS
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