[Coral-List] FW: [SIV Global:] Commercial whaling: sustainable development or an insupportable practice

chris jeffrey chris.jeffrey at noaa.gov
Wed Jul 5 10:57:56 EDT 2006

Coral List servers, I replied to Alina's email about commercial whaling 
but forgot include the coral listserv. Below is my reply to Alina's posting.

Chris Jeffrey


I am from Grenada and my master's thesis focused on coastal bottom 
fisheries in Grenada during 1986 to 1993.  Bottom reef fishes (groupers, 
snappers, and parrot fishes) accounted for only 7% of Grenada's fishery 
harvest, Pelagic fisheries (tunas, billfishes, etc.) was about 61%, 
shellfishes (2%), and unclassified (unidentified species) was about 30% 
of fishery landings in Grenada between 1986-1993). Whaling has never 
been an important source of fisheries revenue or food source in Grenada 
or other island nations of the Lesser Antilles. There has been 
incidental take of whales in Bequia, St. Vincent, but certainly not 
enough to make whales a major source of revenue.  Additionally, the idea 
that whales are competing with coastal communities for fish and 
represent a threat to food security of those island nations is absurd. 
Total fishery landings has increased significantly within the last 
twenty years in Grenada, but fishery effort (i.e., the number of boats, 
fishers, and fishery technology has also increased such that there has 
been a decline in fishery catch per unit effort (the fishery pie is been 
divided among more and more people, such that each person is now 
receiving a smaller slice).
The real question is why would those islands vote with the pro-whaling 
nations of the world, when whaling apparently is not pertinent to their 
island economies? To answer this question we must look at island 
economies in the broader context of today's global economy.   China, 
Taiwan, and Japan have provided significant financial assistance, 
invested in infrastructure development, and provided the latest fishing 
technology and training to many of the small Caribbean island nations. 
Japan is pro-whaling, and China abstained from voting. Additionally, 
governments from Banana-producing islands (e.g., Grenada, St. Vincent, 
Dominica, and St. Lucia) blame U.S. trade policy for the demise of 
bananas on the world market (see 
http://www.bananasontheline.com/news%20releases.html) for a review of 
the US' roles in banana war between Latin America and the Eastern 
Caribbean).  I think those two economic forces at play are shaping  or 
have shaped the environmental viewpoints of  the governments of small 
island nations in the Eastern Caribbean; they are pro-Asia because of 
economic aid and anti-American because of perceived unfair American 
world-trade policies.
In my view, environmental issues are always tied to perceived economic 
benefit, and I firmly believe that being pro-environment is necessary 
for the sustainability for small island nations, but it is a huge 
economic cost (and probably a luxury) that poorer nations can't afford. 
Many of the rich, developed countries of the world have sacrificed their 
environment to achieve economic success and are now spending exorbitant 
sums of money (more than the GDP of many Caribbean island nations) to 
mitigate damage or restore the environment.  Governments and peoples of 
poor island nations desire the lifestyles and consumer products that are 
manufactured and are common place in developed countries.  To put it in 
perspective, Grenada is 21 miles long and 15 miles wide (120 sq miles). 
Yet almost every household in my village now has a 2-3 color TVs (only 
the Rich folks had TV) and at least one car. Gas is more expensive in 
Grenada than the in the U.S. (~$5.00 US per gal). Everyone drives 
everywhere. All of my friends have cell phones, a computer and Internet 
service. I grew up in Grenada without any of those products. Those 
consumer products are not cheap because they are all imported and are 
taxed heavily by the government. The only way to afford them is to make 
more money i.e. fish more if you are a fisherman or become a full-time 
fisher if you were a banana farmer.  Thus, many islanders and their 
elected governments are are convinced that they must pursue economic 
development, which usually comes at the expense of the environment or 
the ecosystem to ensure a comfortable lifestyle. Also, the consumer 
products that my Grenadian folks desire are manufactured by the Asian 
countries (Japan, China, and Taiwan) that are promoting economic 
development of the Caribbean island nations (coincidence?).

So is whaling important to small Caribbean Island nations that have no 
whale fisheries? I believe so.  Those small islands nations are pawns in 
the hands of pro-whaling countries on the international stage (my 
opinion). Can we change the whaling vote of the representatives of those 
countries? I don't think so, unless being anti-whaling becomes 
economically beneficial to those countries (again my opinion).


Christopher F.G. Jeffrey, Ph.D.

Coral Reef Ecologist NOAA/NOS/NCCOS/CCMA/Biogeography Program
301.713.3028 x-134 (Tel)
301.713.4384 (Fax)

Mailing Address:
National Ocean Service
1305 East-West Hwy, SSMC-4, N/SCI-1, #9213
Silver Spring, MD 20910-3281

Szmant, Alina wrote:
> For those of you that may not have read about this issue and want you blood to boil!:  I can't believe that in today's age a group such as the International Whaling Commision could use as a justification for killing whales the fact that they eat fish and that we humans need the fish more than the whales do!!!  Many of the countries voting to resume whaling are small Caribbean islands with coral reefs, so I figure that some readers on this list may be interested in this issue and may be able to help.  If you have contacts in the countries that voted for resumption of comemrcial whaling, you may want to contact them to ask for their help in changing their country's vote.
> *******************************************************************
> 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: Fri 6/23/2006 9:39 AM
> To: notify at sivglobal.org
> Subject: [SIV Global:] Commercial whaling: sustainable development or an insupportable practice
>                       SMALL ISLANDS VOICE
>                  Do you live in a small island?
>                     Tell us what you think.
> ***************************************************************************
> Last week, in St. Kitts and Nevis, the International Whaling Commission, led
> by the pro-whaling countries - Japan, Iceland and Norway - voted (33 in
> favour, 32 against and one abstention) to adopt a non-binding declaration that
> supports the pro-whaling agenda and states that the International Whaling
> Commission will collapse unless whaling resumes. The St. Kitts and Nevis
> Declaration (which may be read in full at
> http://www.unesco.org/csi/smis/siv/Forum/SKNdeclaration06.pdf) notes that the
> moratorium on whaling was adopted in 1986 without advice from the Commission's
> Scientific Committee, and that it was intended as a temporary measure. Since
> then, research has indicated that many stocks and species of whales are
> abundant and sustainable whaling is possible. Furthermore, scientific research
> has shown that whales consume huge quantities of fish, making the issue of
> commercial whaling a matter of food security for coastal nations. Even though
> the pro-whaling nations will need a 75% majority to formally scrap the
> moratorium and resume commercial whaling, there is no doubt that this
> declaration brings in a new era in the conservation of whales.
> The list of countries voting in favour of overturning the moratorium makes for
> interesting reading (see list at the end of this article). Many of them are
> small African, Caribbean and Pacific nations with minimal whaling interests.
> Several international commentators have noted that Japan has spent millions in
> grant aid for fisheries development in some Caribbean countries, implying that
> votes are being bought. This allegation is strongly denied by the Japanese who
> point to their desire to see managed whaling based on scientific knowledge.
> However, there are some odd aspects to Japan's position and that of its
> Caribbean supporters. Firstly, Greenpeace reports: This year all the private
> companies behind Japan's scientific research whaling pulled out, claiming that
> there is no profit to be made from whaling and that too few Japanese people
> are interested in eating whale meat. In response the Fisheries Agency of Japan
> has set up its own company to try and sell the chopped and boxed by-products
> of its science to schools, hospitals and restaurants. Why hunt whales if the
> Japanese people don't want to eat them?
> The second oddity comes from the Caribbean nations who supported the
> declaration. Whales are more profitable to the Caribbean alive than dead. As
> some say, whales should be seen, not hurt. A stakeholder from the Dominican
> Republic related how in one location, Samana, whale watching during the 65-day
> period when the whales pass through, brings in more than US$ 15 million in
> direct and indirect revenue annually.
> Japanese consumers don't want to eat whales. Caribbean nations make more money
> from tourists who want to watch whales. So why hunt them?
> Even with the moratorium in effect, the International Whaling Commission has
> permitted some small-scale sustenance whaling, and whaling for scientific
> research. As Japan points out, its research is carefully designed to study
> whale populations and the ecological role of the species. And in fairness to
> Japan, it is not the only nation that wants to see commercial whaling resumed.
> Norway ignores the present ban on commercial whaling and Iceland also
> slaughters a lesser number of whales. The USA allows indigenous hunters to
> take a few for sustenance, although witnesses report whale hunting is done in
> Alaska by natives, with high-powered, scoped, elaborate weapons.
> At the heart of the dispute is a clash on what the International Whaling
> Commission is all about. Pro-whaling nations refer to the original purpose of
> the Commission which was to ensure proper and effective conservation and
> development of whale stocks. But the anti-whaling lobby says there is no place
> in a modern world for an organization which promotes the killing of whales.
> What do you think?
> ------------------
> Countries voting in favour of the St. Kitts and Nevis Declaration: Antigua and
> Barbuda, Benin, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, Denmark, Dominica, Gabon,
> Gambia, Grenada, Guinea, Iceland, Japan, Korea, Kiribati, Mali, Marshall
> Islands, Mauritania, Mongolia, Morocco, Nauru, Nicaragua, Norway, Palau,
> Russian Federation, St Kitts & Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines,
> Senegal, Solomon Islands, Suriname, Togo, Tuvalu.
> Countries voting against the St. Kitts and Nevis Declaration: Argentina,
> Australia, Austria, Belgium, Belize, Brazil, Chile, Czech Republic, Finland,
> France, Germany, Hungary, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg,
> Mexico, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Oman, Panama, Portugal, San Marino,
> Slovak Republic, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, USA.
> Abstention: China
> Absent: Guatemala
> Adapted from newspaper articles in Caribbean Net News and the Guardian (16
> June 2006) and San Juan Star (20 June 2006)
> 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
> Português.
> Title:   Commercial whaling: sustainable development or an insupportable
> practice
> Author:  newspaper articles
> Date:    Friday, 23 June 2006
> ***************************************************************************
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Christopher F.G. Jeffrey, Ph.D.

Coral Reef Ecologist 
NOAA/NOS/NCCOS/CCMA/Biogeography Program
301.713.3028 x-134 (Tel)
301.713.4384 (Fax)

Mailing Address:
National Ocean Service
1305 East-West Hwy, SSMC-4, N/SCI-1, #9213
Silver Spring, MD 20910-3281

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