Turning the tide in St Vincent and the Grenadines

 

Humpback whale
Humpback whale

St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) is a beautiful island nation in the Eastern Caribbean.  Humpback whaling began on Bequia, its second largest island, in 1875 when William Wallace, a Scottish settler, returned to the island after working on an American whaling vessel. He established a whaling company and passed on techniques for hunting both humpback and sperm whales to his crew, later partnering with French settler, Joseph Ollivierre, who also established a whaling station on the island.

SVG joined the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in 1981 and since then, has been awarded a “subsistence quota” for humpback whales, despite the fact that the nation fails to meet the criteria for so-called Aboriginal Subsistence Whaling (ASW).  In this context, a 50-foot female humpback whale was caught off Bequia last week.

Thankfully, the more positive news is that, since the early 1990s, commercial trips to view marine wildlife, have been operating and are steadily increasing in popularity. In recent years, a whale watch training programme has been developed with the help of international experts, in response to a request from two local organisations, the SVG National Trust and the SVG Preservation Fund.

Several species of whale and dolphin are found in the waters of SVG: some are present year-round, including spinner dolphin, pantropical spotted dolphin, bottlenose dolphin, short-finned pilot whale and orca (killer whale); whilst sperm whales and humpback whales are seasonal visitors.

Importantly, these trips have a broad focus and so passengers are encouraged to spot local birdlife as well as keeping a look-out for whales and dolphins.  For example, the ferry crossing from Kingstown (the capital) to Port Elizabeth offers a great chance to watch dolphins; whilst back ashore, visitors can experience the island’s rich history and visit local museums and the old whaling factory.

In January this year, Prime Minister Gonsalves commented: “A lot of our young folk are interested not so much in the actual traditional whaling, but in whale watching, which is a legitimate activity.” He made other encouraging noises in favour of whale watching, which indicate government support for futher developing whale watching in SVG, a move which will enormously benefit local communities as well as the whales.

Comments

Hat's off to Prime Minister Gonsalves. Properly and educationally oriented whale watching is a far better endeavor than whale killing, especially in the modern economy. Be watchful, though, that increasing numbers of whale watchers and recreational boaters don't pollute and litter, endangering the sea and its inhabitants unintentionally.

Except for the slaughter of the Orcas in front of the tourists this week.

The Prime Minister is worried the whale meat processing plant paid for by the Japanese , as well as our seat on the International Whaling Commission will be risk if they don't stop killing Orcas - so they will give up something they catch less than 1% of the time for Dolphins and Pilot Whales which they hunt and catch on a daily bases , don't be fooled , it just distraction ,

The Prime Minister is worried the whale meat processing plant paid for by the Japanese , as well as our seat on the International Whaling Commission will be risk if they don't stop killing Orcas - so they will give up something they catch less than 1% of the time for Dolphins and Pilot Whales which they hunt and catch on a daily bases , don't be fooled , it just distraction ,

St Vincent yesterday orca whale was harpooned infont manny holiday makers on whale watching trip organised by cruise ship visiting the Island it was horrific sad time to witness and putting us in danger it's in the hands of land agent and minister of the island along with the national trust

There is no chance for the legitimate activity of whale watching to draw tourists and their dollars if the whalers continue their hunting. I was one of those tourists witness to the horrific harpooning of an Orca on March 30th, 2017 and neither I nor my children can recover from that.

END Whale hunting now !
You took out half a pod of Orca ! What are you doing ?!? We will outlaw your island and you will suffer. No tourism! Boycott St. VIncent !!! Call your Queen in protest !!