St Lucia Hosts Press Briefing on Whaling for Caricom Journalists

It was time for the fourth annual two day Press Briefing for Caricom Journalists on Whaling prior the International Whaling Commission (IWC) Annual General Meeting scheduled for Berlin in June, 2003. The venue was the Cara Suites Hotel, La Pansee, Castries.

St. Lucia experienced serious threats to its tourism industry by international NGOs such as Green Peace and in recent times the Sea Shepherd group that sailed into our waters and terrorized our fishermen without cause. Our fishermen were involved in catching small cetaceans which unlike whales are not controlled by the IWC.

The good news is that have been significant developments in the past twelve months and it is expected that the trend will continue beyond Berlin. However, we must not expect a cooling off of the aggressive attitude of the NGOs. There is too much money at stake. Those of us who are supporters of Sustainable Use must take a stand even more than the NGOs who feel that whales must be left alone for the entertainment of whale watchers, while indigenous peoples are robbed of their culture and left hungry. For us it is a matter of survival. Through the abundance of whales in our waters, our fish stocks are being depleted. As a result, the whales will ultimately find themselves in the same position as us and we are more likely to survive as we can change to use of other mammals while they will die.

Civil Society needs to be provided with more information on issues that affect their existence. There can be no argument against Sustainable Use of our marine or any other resource. It is our birth right. Given the attack on our sovereignity by the Sea Shepherd , a group of St. Lucians formed the St. Lucia Council for Sustainable Use with the encouragement of the then Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Mr. Cassius Elias. Ms Rebecca Miller was instrumental in putting together a Booklet on Whaling and Sustainable Use with the assistance of members of the Council and the support of Officials of the Department of Fisheries. Copies of the Booklet were distributed at the meeting. IWC Commissioners from OECS States were in attendance and participated fully in the sessions with other Marine Biologists and Whaling Professionals. Senator, Hon. Calixte George, addressed participants at the opening ceremony. Mr. Tony Best, International Journalist based in New York chaired the entire proceedings. Mr Alan Macnow of Telepress and Mr Horace Walters coordinated the programme.