Is that rain, or Just St. Vincent & the Grenadines?…
In an unprecedented strategy aimed at passing a ‘super-proposal’ of aboriginal subsistence whaling (ASW) quotas, the U.S., Russian Federation, and St. Vincent & the Grenadines have submitted a joint schedule amendment, marking the first time that multiple countries have submitted a “bundled” request for their ASW quotas for three species (bowhead, gray whales, and humpbacks) from three populations (‘stocks’).
Why is This Important?
Bundling unrelated quotas of different species and stocks sets a dangerous precedent because it allows an unsubstantiated or questionable ASW quota to be seriously considered for approval by the Commission because it is linked with a much less controversial quota.
The best example of this is the so-called ASW quota put forth by St. Vincent & the Grenadines, which has never demonstrated the aboriginal nature of this hunt convincingly to the Commission through a Needs Assessment. Indeed, it is proving to be very challenging for SVG Commissioner Edwin Snagg to defend any aspect of the Bequian whale hunt at this year’s meeting. In a formulaic strategy often used by his histrionic colleagues from St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, and Antigua and Barbuda, Commissioner Snagg seems to believe that if he shouts the loudest and acts with utmost affront, he will silence the stream of questions from his esteemed commissioners challenging the nature of and the need for, the SVG request for a quota of 24 humpbacks from 2013-2018.
In addition to never having satisfied a justifiable Needs Assessment for its quota, SVG has consistently and repeatedly failed to report biological, welfare, and strike/kill data to the IWC. It has illegally pursued and killed whale species outside of the purview of its allotted quota. It has intentionally and illegally targeted humpback whale calves in order to lure mothers to whaling boats. It consistently uses killing methods deemed to be ‘cruel and inhumane’ and expressly prohibited by the IWC. It has condoned the use of speedboats rather than ‘open wooden boats’ (as so romantically and erroneously purported in tourist literature). Finally, it has falsely and intentionally misrepresented the hunt as being ‘aboriginal’ in nature, when in fact the practice does not align with IWC’s definition of the term. A single family’s tradition started less than 200 years ago hardly represents an authentic ‘aboriginal’ cultural tradition. Simply stated, the SVG hunt is not conducted by aboriginal/indigenous peoples, and cultural and nutritional reliance for the hunt has never been sufficiently substantiated. The burden of proof should be placed squarely on SVG to effectively demonstrate otherwise.
What Should Happen?
The linkage between individual requests for ASW quotas for each stock should be ‘un-bundled’ and evaluated by the Commission based on documented evidence in support of each proposal. The NGO community worldwide has expressed outrage and dismay that the bundled proposal would be considered by the Commission without precedent or merit. More importantly, despite numerous requests by NGOs to do so, the co-sponsors of the proposal, primarily the U.S., steadfastly refuse to revise it so that each of the three quotas can be evaluated on the basis of individual merit.
NGOs have been working strategically and diligently to identify a commissioner to champion the movement to “unbundle” this disastrous triad ASW quota package by proposing a motion on the Commision plenary floor to be adopted by a simple majority.
We’ll keep you posted.
As for Commissioner Snagg, a quote by the irrepressible Judith Sheindlin (“Judge Judy”) comes to mind…Sir, don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining.