[Coral-List] FW: [SIV Global:] Politics of commercial whaling

Szmant, Alina szmanta at uncw.edu
Mon Aug 14 13:29:14 EDT 2006

Dr. Alina M. Szmant
Coral Reef Research Group
UNCW-Center for Marine Science 
5600 Marvin K. Moss Ln
Wilmington NC 28409
Tel: (910)962-2362 & Fax:  (910)962-2410
Cell:  (910)200-3913
email:  szmanta at uncw.edu
Web Page:  http://people.uncw.edu/szmanta


From: www at post.almac.co.uk on behalf of smallislandsvoice at sivglobal.org
Sent: Thu 8/10/2006 4:23 AM
To: notify at sivglobal.org
Subject: [SIV Global:] Politics of commercial whaling

                      SMALL ISLANDS VOICE

                 Do you live in a small island?
                    Tell us what you think.


Responses to this debate on commercial whaling are most interesting and we are
sorry that we do not have the space to post every message. However, each
response is carefully considered, and they will all be compiled on the Small
Islands Voice website when this discussion ends. So please keep the emails

Responding to Yonnette Belmar's message justifying whaling for subsistence
purposes, Sabra Kauka from Kauai, Hawaii (Pacific) writes: I think we need to
clarify that what most of us oppose is commercial whaling by industrialized
nations such as Japan. I do not oppose subsistence whaling by the people who
have depended on whaling and seals for their livelihood for thousands of
years. The people who responded in the previous Small Islands Voice message of
11 July 2006, and I, have the option of going to a store to purchase our food
and clothing. Not so for those who live in the far north.

However, John Elfick, Australia, provides a slightly different perspective on
hunting for subsistence purposes: In Northern Australia, indigenous
populations are allowed to catch dugong (a large plant-eating marine mammal,
sometimes called a sea cow) because it is part of the traditional diet of
people who inhabit the islands of the Torres Strait. This arrangement sounds
reasonable enough. Let them go out in their canoes and catch a few dugong for
dinner! However, nowadays indigenous people are buying powerful outboard
motors, catching lots of dugong and bringing the meat south for sale in
cities. Some scientists say the dugong, a slow moving animal and easy to
catch, will soon become extinct.

Returning to the debate on the support by many small islands for the recent
vote on the pro-whaling agenda, several persons have written in commenting on
the politics of the issue. Here is one response from Arthur Webb, Fiji,
(Pacific): I've lived in the South Pacific Islands for many years and I'll
start by saying I also agree that a return to commercial whaling would be
tragic. But I'm concerned that some of the islands who voted with St. Kitts &
Nevis are being partly blamed. I would urge you to step aside from the emotion
of this issue. Development aid from the west to small islands decreased
significantly through the 90s and some Asian countries have stepped up and
partially filled that gap. Now I know that this money has conditions attached,
but let's not be so naive as to think aid from western nations wasn't
similarly tainted - indeed if western nations were really serious about whale
conservation they would simply buy back the votes of the islands (cynical I
know, but it's the truth). Many conservation issues, including whales, are the
luxury of richer countries, which can afford the time and expertise to indulge
in them. Why should poorer small island nations risk missing out on
substantial aid and assistance dollars simply to earn favour with the
conservation priorities of certain groups in some developed nations. Let's
remember that in the South Pacific low-lying islands are among the most
vulnerable environments on the planet to accelerated climate change and sea
level rise and whilst some important developed nations fail to support the
limitation of carbon dioxide emissions, how can we possibly ask small islands
to consider the conservation of a few charismatic species when their entire
island, culture and way of life is at threat? These people are sending the
West a clear message - support us and we'll support you.

An interesting example is the country of Kiribati, one of the world's least
developed atoll nations (which also supported St Kitts & Nevis and
incidentally, they have a higher literacy rate than many developed nations).
This country has just designated a vast area of their ocean territory and land
resources in the central Pacific (Phoenix Islands) as a marine protected area.
It is one of the most truly pristine and untouched corners of our equatorial
marine biosphere. Kiribati undertook this magnificent, far sighted act without
prompting from any of the regional powers and will manage the area with their
own resources - all this from a nation with so little. How can it be that on
one hand they can make an environmental commitment of global importance at
their own cost, and yet will sign away whales with the other hand? Understand
that for small islands in the Pacific this issue is not about cheap meat, for
many of these peoples whales still have spiritual / traditional significance,
which is as strong now as it was when industrialized nations were busy
slaughtering whales by the thousands to make lamp oil, face paint and fashion
items. This issue is sadly about survival and politics - and be sure that
developed nations are playing the same game just as hard and far more
cynically than the islands.

http://babelfish.altavista.com/tr allows for translation into other languages.
For those who prefer, you may respond to this forum in Español, Français or

Title:   Politics of commercial whaling
Author:  J. Elfick, S. Kauka, A. Webb
Date:    Thursday, 10 August 2006


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