Yesterday, the Commission renewed aboriginal subsistence hunt quotas for several countries, including the U.S., Russia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Under the renewed quotas, Alaskan Inupiats can still hunt 56 bowhead whales per year, Russian indigenous peoples in Siberia can hunt 120 gray whales each year and Bequians in St. Vincent and the Grenadines can kill 4 humpback whales per year.
According to news reports and blogs I've read, U.S. and Russian quotas seemed largely without controversy, but the St. Vincent and the Grenadines hunt was opposed by environmental groups for many reasons. While the U.S. and Russian hunts are highlight monitored and documented and done with more humane killing techniques, it was argued that the Bequians fail to provide data on their hunts, use speedboats and inhumane killing methods, and even go after humpback moms and their calves. On top of that, the hunt was not even started by natives.
Louise Joseph Mitchel, a Bequian native, argued yesterday before the Commission:
The killing of the humpback whales on Bequia is a relic of European and American origin, which began in about 1875 by a Scottish settler William Wallace together with his whaling partner, a settler of French origin, Joseph Ollivierre. It is not an 'aboriginal' activity, it is an activity learned from the Yankee whalers. Modern day whaling in Bequia is done by persons of mixed European and African descent.
However, the quota for the Bequians was passed as the proposal was bundled together with the renewal of the U.S. and Russian quotas. The controversial quota for Greenland, where environmental groups claim that the meat hunted for aboriginal subsistence purposes was sold in restaurants to tourists, will be debated later in the week.
- Whaling and the International Whaling Commission
- Indigenous Whaling Bids Granted After 'Racism' Claim (BBC News)
Image: Bowhead whaels, courtesy NOAA