IFAW opposes call for commercial whale hunt in the Caribbean: whale meat for tourists?

Wednesday, 22 November, 2006
Yarmouth Port, MA
The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW – www.ifaw.org) today urges leaders and citizens of Caribbean countries to oppose the statement by St Kitts and Nevis Fisheries Minister Cedric Liburd that the region should begin commercial whaling as a way to positively impact tourism.
Despite global outcry against the hunting of whales and a ban on whaling since 1986, Minister  Liburd indicated at a recent meeting of Caribbean government officials that the region should follow Japan’s lead and kill whales for their meat.

“The Caribbean has a thriving whale watching industry, valued at more than US$22 million per year,” said Trinidad-born Dr. Joth Singh, IFAW’s Director of Wildlife and Habitat Protection. “This is in stark contrast to slaughtering these same whales and feeding the meat to visitors.

“We urge the region’s leaders to support the local whale watching industry which is already contributing substantially to local economies,” said Dr. Singh. “The economic benefit of a live whale beats that of a dead one by far in today’s Caribbean economy.”
“Tourists come here to see whales and dolphins in their natural habitat,” said Andrew Armour, owner of Anchorage Whale Watching and Dive Center in Dominica. “What will happen if our visitors instead see whales being killed? This could undo overnight the image of the Caribbean as a place to experience the beauty of nature.”
Continued Dr. Singh, “The use of whaling as a viable means of diversifying the agriculture and fisheries sectors of developing countries has not been recommended by any recognized experts in food security issues.
“Whale watching, on the other hand, is a proven means of diversifying the income base of many coastal communities -- it now provides several times more income to coastal communities worldwide than does whaling.”
IFAW is calling on its 2.5 million supporters worldwide to send notice to the Ministers of Tourism throughout the Caribbean, urging them to support whale watching over whale hunting. To learn more, visit www.ifaw.org today.

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