Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Gotta love our cheap Antiguan politicians and government reps.

Antigua & Barbuda in front line
of whaling debate
Tuesday June 08, 2010 Page 14 By Shelton Daniel (Daily Observer)

Antigua Barbuda is again at the front line of the annual tussle between
pro- and anti-whaling interests.
The bitterly opposed camps are, as usual, ramping up their worldwide
lobbying and propaganda as the annual
meeting of International Whaling Commission (IWC) approaches.
Delegations from the 88 member states, along with innumerable NGOs on
both sides of the divide - as
well as countless reporters and observers - will descend on the Moroccan
city of Agadir Monday, June
21 to Friday, June 25 for the IWC's 62nd annual meeting. This year's
is of special significance, as, for the first time since a 1982 moratorium
on commercial
whaling, the IWC is now proposing a controlled resumption that it believes
will better serve the organisation's
founding mission of conservation. Uncompromising opponents to any form of
whaling (such as the Australian government and the international
environmental group Greenpeace) see this
as a disguised Japanese-inspired move to officially approve a decade long
open season of whale
slaughter. Analysts say this sets the stage for a highly keyed up and
combative encounter in the summer
heat of North Africa.
A m b a s s a d o r Anthony "Mamba" Liverpool is the current vice-chair
of the IWC and a
lead author of the draft 10- year proposal, which its creators hope will
provide the blueprint for a workable
peace plan between the warring IWC factions. The document's main premise
is that it is far better to permit
restricted and strictly monitored whaling within sustainable limits,
rather that to permit dissenting or
unregulated whaling interests to set their own quotas - if at all - and to
determine which whale
species are endangered. Antigua & Barbuda is one of four Caribbean
countries that presently support so-called sustainable consumption of
- a position that allies them with Japan and the few other nations that
hunt whales for food. Dominica, while not making a complete about face
from its usual pro whaling vote, has indicated that it will abstain this year. The country has in recent difficult to reconcile its tourism marketing pitch as "The Nature Isle"
with support for whaling - given the growing popularity of whale-watching as a prime
visitor attraction.
Speaking with The Daily OBSERVER on the weekend, local environmental
activist Martha Watkins-
Gilkes said the government in St John's should change course and oppose
whaling - or to at least do like
Dominica and abstain. She believes such a revised policy will be more
sensible and rewarding.
Like most other anti-whaling environmentalists, she's urging the adoption
of whale-watching
as an alternative that will boost the tourism industry on which this
country so heavily depends. Watkins-
Gilkes says Antigua & Barbuda's current support for whaling puts off many
travellers from choosing
here as their holiday destination. From a tourism standpoint, there is a
lot of negativity about this on
Antigua. You just have to Google Antigua. If you type in Antigua whaling,
you will get over 200,000 sites ...
a lot of which are against Antigua's stance in voting pro-whaling."
Watkins Gilkes said a very large number
of Antiguans and Barbudas were also opposed to the position taken by the
at the IWC, and suggested that even if the government did not wish to
heed the international pressure, it should at least listen to its own
people. She said
there was great potential here for whale-watching, given the number of
whales that pass through the
country's waters yearly. Not surprisingly, among those who strongly
disagree with Watkins-
Gilkes is Antigua & Barbuda's former chief fisheries officer. Daven Joseph
who also served in times
past as the country's IWC commissioner, said Antigua's position on whaling
is informed by scientific
evidence and not emotion. "The Caribbean countries' position at the IWC
is not in support of
Japan. It's a position that is based on the principles of sustainable use
of maritime resources," Joseph said,
echoing a position he has consistently advocated for a very long time. "I
am the coordinator
for the Caribbean programme at the IWC and I will never recommend or
encourage countries to support
the taking of any whales that are endangered or threatened." Joseph said
decisions taken by Caribbean countries at the IWC are based on sound
scientific advice. "The countries
of the region - all the ministers - met in Grenada on the 11th and 12th of
last month and agreed to a joint
position." The other Caribbean countries that vote at the IWC in favour
of "sustainable whaling" are St
Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, and St Vincent and the Grenadines. They have
been criticised for lending critical
support to Japan in exchange for economic assistance, mainly in the
form of fisheries projects. But Joseph said those who demand a change in
Antigua & Barbuda's
stance at the IWC must also be prepared to bankroll the economic
alternatives. "Apart from St Vincent and
the Grenadines, we in the Caribbean are not whaling countries. And if we are
asked to give up our rights to
take these animals we should be compensated for it." Expanding on that point
he added: "You're
hearing in the news media how much money Japan is making; we're hearing how
many whales the United States is taking; how much millions and billions of
dollars that Australia and New
Zealand are getting from whale-watching. And we are saying that we have a
right to benefit from these
international resources." Joseph added, "Our interest is for a compensation
package within any agreement at the IWC for these countries that are
so much from whales to put funds into a programme so that we can
draw down on technical assistance and also funding for enterprise-building
our country. This will enable us to develop whale-watching and maritime
industries that can enhance our
Mr. Joseph wouldn't know sustainable fishing if it slapped him in the face. If he cared about that as much as he cared about his connections with Japan then he'd be waging war against the French islands that are raping our marine recourses every single day.
Here was the last blog I wrote some time ago on the subject of Antigua's official support for Japan. Click here.

1 comment:

Roddy Grimes-Graeme said...

What would really help would be govt. tax concessions for local operators to expand into whalewatching and other nature tours. This would allow regular Antiguan citizens to develop and benefit from eco industries like whalewatching.

But the govt. (both main parties) have at least a 30 year track record of only giving concessions to foriegn operators when there are much larger sums involved than locals can raise.

This is the trade off our govt. has made, large sums and useless development of fisheries plants (with the political gains that they can bring at election time) instead of simply taking their hands off and letting a whole new branch of our tourist product develop.

Incidentally, if nature tourism was made #1 here we might get and enforce marine reserves that could help our beaches, fisheries, shoreline defence and all other areas of our tourist plant. Just like they have in many other countries.

It would also get us off of the radar of all the increasingly educated tourists that find us on the list of whaling / japan friendly countries to avoid visiting.

This seems like a peripheral issue but it isnt. Antiguans should really pay attention to this.