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David @ Tokyo

Perspective from Japan on whaling and whale meat, a spot of gourmet news, and monthly updates of whale meat stockpile statistics



IWC 2006: Threats of economic terrorism

Predictably, various small developing nations have again been threatened with tourism boycotts regarding their principled stance at the IWC meeting just concluded in St. Kitts and Nevis. This from the Associated Press:
Environmental groups have accused developing nations of voting with Japan in return for money for fisheries projects — which Japan and those countries have repeatedly denied.

Caribbean tourism officials have said they are concerned that their countries’ support of whaling might lead travelers to boycott the region.

“Such threats are tantamount to economic terrorism,” said Joanne Massiah, Food Production and Marine Resources Minister for the Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda.

Anthony L. Hall has written a column on the topic for www.caribbeannetnews.com:
Fatuous anti-whaling argument: Free Willie or we’ll destroy your economy...

“The Caribbean countries that helped Japan win a narrow victory at the International Whaling Commission could face a backlash from environmentally concerned tourists....People come to this region to see nature at its best....Individuals for whom whaling is abhorrent will think twice about going to a destination where their values are not shared."

This dire warning was expressed in a UPI commentary published here on Wednesday. And it fairly summarizes the sentiments (and, perhaps, the perverse wish) of those who opposed the motion to resume commercial whaling that was approved at last weekend’s International Whaling Commission in St Kitts.

However, there’s nothing more unseemly in political and social debate than people resorting to threats (and acts of violence) as methods of persuasion. Yet no group has relied more on such methods to advance their world view than radical environmentalists (a.k.a. eco-terrorists). Indeed, they have become notorious for tree spiking (hammering metal rods or other material into tree trunks) to save the forest, torching homes and ski resorts to prevent suburban development and vandalizing car (SUV) dealerships to promote energy conservation.

Of course, given such tactics, I suppose we should thank our lucky stars that these self-appointed avengers of Mother Nature are only threatening to ruin our tourist economies to save the whales.

Nevertheless, as one for whom commercial whaling is abhorrent, I resent this misguided attempt to undermine the economy of any country in the Caribbean because its government does not find commercial whaling abhorrent. In fact, I find the sewage that cruise ships dump in our crystal-clear waters infinitely more abhorrent. Yet I would never countenance threatening the livelihood of people who depend on the revenues those ships generate to express my environmental outrage.

Therefore, I admonish regional environmentalists like Keith Laurie, President of the Barbados Environmental Society, against parroting the fatuous rhetoric of environmentalists who threaten economic doom for the Caribbean countries (Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines) that joined 27 other states in supporting this motion.

After all, it hardly seems a fair trade to boycott these countries because they support the historical and cultural practice of Japan and other nations to hunt whales.

NOTE: Instead of getting all hysterical about people hunting whales, our environmentalists would prove far more useful as avengers of Mother Nature if they could get cruise ship operators to hold their crap to dump back home; instead of behaving like floating elephants in our Caribbean Sea.

* * *

Meanwhile, I myself wrote a letter, which has since been published on the caribbean net news website. My letter read as follows:

Do the NGO groups based in developed western nations that have leveled suggestions of boycotts at the Caricom nations have the best interests of the peoples of the Caribbean at heart? Or are these NGO groups merely attempting to manipulate the Caricom nations, to serve their own selfish political agendas?

I would suggest that the nations of the Caribbean have learnt who their true friends are, in the aftermath of recent events at the IWC meeting in St Kitts and Nevis. The statements of the leaders of the Caricom nations who firmly rejected the hollow threats of economic terrorism that have been leveled against them by these western NGO groups impressed me immensely.

As a symbol of my personal support for the Caricom nations who voted in line with the principle of sustainable use at the IWC meeting, I would like to inform your readers that these events have motivated me to plan a visit to the Caribbean, and I will encourage my friends and family to do so as well. As a New Zealander, I hope to take in a game of cricket or two while I am there.

So with that, I do encourage you all to visit one of the small nations that voted consistently for the principle of sustainable use at the IWC.

Unfortunately, these threats are clear evidence that the IWC must implement secret ballots to ensure that this situation does not continue.
Although there is some sentiment in the islands that whaling could threaten tourism, Japan's allies on the IWC, such as Antigua and Barbuda, dismiss the issue as artificially inspired by environmentalists and media.

"We are accused of selling our votes and prostituting our sovereignty, but as sovereign states we take great offense to this," said Joanne Massiah, Antigua and Barbuda's minister of food production and marine resources.

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