Caribbean Conservationists Issues “St. Kitts Declaration” as IWC Debates Fate of World’s Whales

Friday, June 16, 2006
Frigate Bay, St. Kitts
Dozens of conservation experts from across the Caribbean met in St. Kitts today, on the eve of the 58th meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting here June 16-20. The group issued a “St. Kitts Declaration” calling on Caribbean political leaders to support whale conservation in the region, and not to be pressured into supporting pro-whaling nations in their push for the global whaling moratorium to be lifted. This declaration comes in response to Japan being accused of providing development aid to Caribbean nations in exchange for support for its pro-whaling position at the IWC.
“We can not allow Japan to use its wealth to pressure our region into supporting its campaign to hunt whales,” said Dr. Joth Singh of Trinidad, Director of Wildlife and Habitat Protection with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW – www.ifaw.org ). “Whale watching is now a US$10-million industry across the Caribbean. Our leaders need to support whale conservation, not whale hunting.”
 
The group, which included many whale watching tour operators, also committed to a revitalization of CaribWhale, a regional whale-watching network. The group announced it would promote the network and call on Caribbean governments to support the initiative.
 
Japan is expected to control a simple majority voting block at this year’s IWC meeting. IFAW and other local and international environmental organizations are concerned that this will be the first step towards the reopening of the commercial hunting and trade of whales.
 
“People thought whales were saved for good back in the 1970s. But if Japan controls the votes at this year’s IWC meeting, the global conservation community will be thrown back decades. Whales will no longer be saved. They will become marked targets,” IFAW’s Dr. Singh said.
 
IFAW is calling on supporters around the globe to log on to www.stopwhaling.org  to take action to protect whales from commercial whaling. Log on today to make your voice heard.
 
Editors: Caribbean conservationists on-site in St. Kitts are available for interview. Please visit www.ifaw.org for more information, and to download a copy of the “St. Kitts Declaration.”

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