Tuesday, 19 June 2012 02:30
By caribarena news
Antigua St John's - Antigua and Barbuda will again be voting in favor of what has become known as the most controversial form of slaughter and animal cruelty of the century – whaling.
Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer has signaled his administration’s intention to again support Japan’s bid to continue the killing of cetaceans as part of its approach to marine preservation.
And according to reports from the online medium ‘Examiner’, Antigua & Barbuda may have been a part of an alleged bribery operation undertaken by the Japanese government to gain the support of small nations that find it rewarding to favor of Japanese whaling.
“The Japanese government is allegedly bribing small countries like the Solomon Islands and Antigua & Barbuda to vote against the proposal,” says an article by Phil Kline, Greenpeace Oceans Campaigner.
To counter the alleged bribery, Greenpeace had begun an email fundraising drive of its own within the International Whaling Commission (IWC).
The group accuses Japan of bribing small countries to vote against the interests of the whales and against their vision of the broader environmental benefits of whale protection.
Prime Minister Spencer has reportedly said that the move to support Japan is part of his government’s belief that such action does not affect marine life and is subject to change based on the government’s perception of its impact on marine activity.
His comments come as yet another slap in the face for sister OECS nation Dominica, which markets its tourism product on the shoulders of whale watching and natural preservation.
Local environmentalist Eli Fuller says Antigua is supporting the move because it is being allegedly bribed to do so; plain and simple. He told Caribarena that the country has no business supporting Japan to kill whales, since the country is not given any assistance to protect any marine life in any way, especially by Japan.
Fuller noted that when he heard that the minister responsible for marine resources talking about “sustainable use” and saying that whaling is “sustainable use”, his reaction was: “They were given blood money. There is zero evidence of any initiative for sustainable use of our marine resources. It’s very hypocritical for them to be talking about sustainable use when none of the money given from Japan is put towards sustaining our marine resources,” he said.
Over the years, there have been several attempts by conservationists locally to persuade the government to vote differently, but these have all gone unheeded.
Fuller suggested that if the government is so bent on taking the Japanese money, it should at least use it to build the local fisheries industry and allow the Japanese government to assist in the supply of the relevant resources to help manage the industry.
According to the Antigua and Barbuda Independent Tourism Promotion Corporation’s Martha Gilkes, her organization has taken a formal stance against whaling for years and continues to do so today.
“ABITPC still takes a stance that Antigua should not be voting pro-whaling for a number of reasons including that it is very bad for tourism,” Gilkes said, adding that several anti-Antigua forums were found online because of the nation’s stance.
She too, questioned the use of the Japanese funding received over the years for fisheries enhancement.