A new report by the Animal Welfare Institute demonstrates years of infractions and failure to comply with IWC regulations on the part of the so-called aboriginal subsistence humpback whale hunts in Bequia, part of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
The report, Humpback Whaling in Bequia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines: The IWC’s Failed Responsibility, details how the Commission has repeatedly approved the humpback whale hunts without demanding compliance by Bequian whalers. In fact, the quota has been renewed six times over the past thirty years, yet specific information on humane killing and nutritional needs is inadequate, and the Bequians repeatedly kill females with calves and commit additional infractions. Requests by the Scientific Committee for specific information on the hunts, including identification photographs of the flukes, have been ignored.
In fact, the whale hunts are conducted not by native Bequians in the normal sense of “aboriginal” people, but by a group descended from a whaler living in Bequia of Scottish ancestry.
At this year’s IWC, the quota for Bequia has been “bundled” for an up or down vote with the Russian catch of gray whales and the US catch of bowhead whales, making IWC review of the individual quotas much harder to achieve.
The Commission should unbundle the aboriginal subsistence hunt quotas, so each can be examined in detail and appropriate steps taken to see that IWC regulations and requests for information are indeed fulfilled by the member nations.