Why Dominica Doesn’t Support Commercial Whaling

The nature island is now also the whale-friendly island. Planning a trip to the Caribbean? If so, consider visiting the island of Dominica (not to be confused with the Dominican Republic). It is a small island, but big on saving whales and putting an end to Japan’s commercial whaling.

Sunset Fishing on Dominica

Boys fish at the end of a dock as the sun sets over Portsmouth Harbour in Dominica.

© Marc Serota / Greenpeace

Vote Nay on Commercial Whaling

In order to provide for the proper conservation of whale stocks, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) was created back in 1946. And, in 1986 the Commission banned commercial whaling by adopting a moratorium worldwide.

The IWC continues to meet each year to vote on the conditions for the moratorium. Year after year, the fate of the world’s whales is put into the hands of the more than 70 nations that are members of the IWC.

While the majority of nations vote to continue the moratorium on whaling, many of the pro-whaling nationslike Japanlobby heavily to persuade others to vote against the moratorium.

Japan’s lobbying has bought the votes of many Caribbean countries. Japan uses generous fisheries aid packages to entice small, cash-strapped nations to support them. Japan’s pro-whaling allies in the Eastern Caribbean include Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and St. Kitts and Nevis.

But, recently the Commonwealth of Dominica has come out and announced they will no longer be supporting Japan’s agenda of reestablishing commercial whaling.

Changing Tide

For many years, the Commonwealth of Dominica was a staunch ally of Japan at the IWC annual meetings, voting with Japan in support of restarting commercial whaling.

But in 2008, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit announced, “This year the Cabinet took a decision that Dominica shall abstain on the issue of commercial whaling; we are breaking a trend that we have maintained for a number of years.” He added that the decision to change the island’s pattern of voting was in the best interest of the country.

He kept his promiseDominica did not attend the 2008 meeting of the IWC. In March 2009, speaking in Dominica’s capital city Roseau at the International Ocean Life Symposium, the Prime Minister reconfirmed that his government would no longer be supporting the whale-killing position of the Japanese government in the IWC. He said that his government would be acting in his country’s “national interest.”

This makes Dominica the only East Caribbean IWC member country that does not support Japan’s drive to resume commercial whaling.

Planning a Trip? Make it Whale-Friendly

We applaud Dominica’s decision to renounce its support for the killing of whalesliving up to its own description as the “Nature Island.”

If you are going to spend your hard-earned cash on a vacation to a Caribbean island, why not make it to one that has made the commitment to ending whaling? Not only is the Dominica whale-friendly, it is also are ocean friendly, having established two marine reserves with a third in progress.

Dominica is an unusual place. It was shaped by volcanoes, has black sand beaches and a world heritage site. The island is also home to dramatic mountains, dozens of waterfalls, the world’s second largest boiling lake, natural hot springs and an underwater world that rivals any in the Caribbean and perhaps the world.

In its annual “Top 100 Issue,” Scuba Diving magazine rated Dominica number one for “Healthiest Marine Environment” and number three for Top Dive Destination, among other recognition.

Dominica is sometimes called the whale watching capitol of the Caribbean. Deep sheltered bays along its western coastline provide a haven for the sperm whale, which calves and breeds in this type of habitat. A short boat ride brings visitors into contact with the world’s largest toothed animal in the calm turquoise Caribbean Sea.

Dominica is the only country in the world where the sperm whale resides all year long, although sightings are most common between November and March. Whale watching operators follow strict codes of conduct on their excursions.

Dominica also offers hiking and sea turtle watching as well. There are no big luxury chain hotels; accommodations are in small hotels, guesthouses and cottages or apartments. Dominica has put its long-term futureand the future of the whalesahead of the short-term gains of foreign aid and unsustainable development.

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