WHALING IN BEQUIA

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WHALING IN- BEQUIA is one of the few places in the world where limited whaling is still allowed by the International Whaling Commission. Natives of Bequia are allowed to catch up to four humpback whales per year using only traditional hunting methods of hand-thrown harpoons in small, open sailboats. The limit is rarely met, with no catch some years.Bequia has a long tradition of whaling as well as the building of whaling boats.There is a small whaling museum on the island chronicling local whaling’s history. A feature of the Port Elizabeth waterfront is the Whale Boner Bar & Restaurant. This bar has an entrance onto the beach consisting of an arch of two whale ribs, as well as whale vertebrae mounted on the bar seats and a whale rib running the length of the bar.
In the 2012 meeting of the International Whaling Commission, the delegates renewed the annual quota of whales for all three groups who submitted joint bids: Alaskan Inupiat, Russian indigenous people in Chukotka in eastern Siberia, and St Vincent and the Grenadines, despite protestations of delegates from Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Chile, and Costa Rica. Dominican Republic delegate Peter Sanchez said the St Vincent and the Grenadines hunt was “artisanal whaling out of control,” and that the hunters have “repeatedly broken the rules – hunting for young ones and pregnant females. Other delegates pointed out that St Vincent and the Grenadines bid “should not qualify under ASW rules because the Bequians, the group that maintains the hunt, are not truly indigenous.
Monaco delegate Frederic Briand argued that whaling “started by a settler’s family as recently as 1875 does not qualify as ‘aboriginal’.Louise Mitchell Joseph, speaking on behalf of the Eastern Caribbean Coalition of Environmental Awareness stated that there was no documented history of whaling in the islands, and that “there have been many archaeological excavations conducted, and there was no evidence found whatsoever of whale hunting by aboriginal peoples. Neither whale remains nor weapons that could have been used to kill such a large mammals were ever found; neither are any images of whales inscribed on our petroglyphs.

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