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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: Trinidad & Tobago and whaling

William Benjamin, adviser to Trinidad & Tobago's Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources made some interesting comments back in 2004, which I am finally getting around to posting about now.

Note that Trinidad and Tobago isn't a member of the IWC, but Benjamin speaks about the directions his Cabinet was taking at the time:
"... Cabinet took a decision to involve what we call the ecosystem approach to the management of our fisheries, the study of all species. We look at the total ecosystem. We have to look at the top predators and the last organism in the food chain."

"Decisions concerning the utilisation of our marine resources should be based on sound scientific information. If the information indicates commercial whaling will be resumed, then let it be. This is food for some people."

"Look at the people of South East Asia, the Japanese, the Taiwanese. They are people too. Their culture is to consume all types of marine resource.

"Very few of us in the Caribbean utilise whale meat as food, but those who choose to do that, if it's their culture, they must be free to do so, once the resources placed here by God can be used in a sustainable manner.

"These decisions cannot be based on your emotions, or the Director of Fisheries' emotions ... They must be based on the scientific evidence."

"Science and technology must inform decisions we make and not the emotions of other people prodding you."

"... people have been going overboard in an unscientific way. People will tell you some species are endangered when in fact they are not. These people have an agenda. They are not forthcoming with the truth; the argument is very skewed to support the agenda of choice."

"People are saying we must not use our resources at all. Protectionism against conservation. Thirty years ago, the same people who banned whaling were decimating the whale population of the world to supply factories with oil and grease and to put light in street lamps. Then they discovered petroleum, they decide, okay, let us put the ban on whales. They telling Third World people not to use these resources as food. They were concerned about their Industrial Revolution."

"... the same people who decimated the whale, put the ban on whale oblivious to those people who use those resources as food. After 20 years the IWC has become a political instrument, and it is telling the world that the whale population is still endangered. Other researchers are telling us no, that some species of whales are recovered and allow for sustainable use."

"It's a big open sea; an environment that have all the marine resources in there. If we are to manage our fisheries in a sustainable manner then we have to take into account the impact of the whales on our fisheries.

"The Government of Trinidad and Tobago, and the Cabinet, has taken a decision to investigate that. We must investigate the impacts of whales on our fisheries resources."

"... I know that whales would impact on our fisheries population-could impact-once the population is large enough. Since it is well recognised that the IWC makes decisions that impact our fisheries and the food security of many Third World countries, then perhaps we as a country would want to participate in that decision-making. It would probably not affect us, our food security, but other Third World brothers and sisters. We must be concerned at their welfare and be there to support them."

These comments came in an interview following a CARICOM sustainable use symposium held in Trinidad and Tobago.

Naturally, anti-whaling NGOs were very upset about this. Trinidad-born Dr Joth Singh is introduced in the linked article as the Executive Director of the Caribbean Conservation Association. What the article doesn't mention is that Dr Singh is IFAW's Director of Wildlife and Habitat Protection. Impartial NGO representative?

Apparently the government at the time these comments were made is still in power today.

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