A handful of Caribbean islands are about to put their two cents in where it really doesn’t belong.
The governments of Suriname and six independent members of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean states are set to vote on 21 June on whether to stop or continue a moratorium on commercial whaling.
Their two cents doesn’t belong there because we don’t do commercial whaling in the Caribbean.
That’s what they do in Japan, Norway and Iceland.
In the Caribbean we whale watch. In fact it is becoming another tourism tool for the region as a whole.
But whalers in Japan want the ban on commercial whaling lifted and to get their way, they need as many votes as they can get in their favour.
So, according to authoritative reports, the membership fees of Suriname and OECS governments are being paid by Japan, which is also paying the costs for the delegates of those states to attend IWC meetings this coming week in Morocco. In return for the vote Japan will continue to provide economic aid to these countries in the form of fish refrigeration facilities.
The countries – Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines – have the ability to tarnish the reputation of the region if they do vote on the side of Japan, Norway and Iceland.
It is not in our best interest that these countries vote for the continued slaughter of whales throughout the world.
We do have whales in the waters off the Cayman Islands and they are beautiful creatures to watch as they pass by our Islands.
Already Dominica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines earn millions of dollars from the whale-watching industry.
The potential for the same lucrative industry is available to St. Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, but a vote with Japan could kill whale-watching tourism in the Caribbean.
Putting tourism aside, a vote to lift the ban on commercial whaling could also mean that whalers from Japan, Norway and Iceland could traverse our own waters in search of whales, depleting the whale population.
The ban on commercial whaling should be enforced and loopholes in the laws that allow whalers to continue should be closed.
We pray that the Caribbean countries that do have a vote on this emotive issue will do the right thing for our region, the whales and the world and continue the ban.