Appeal to OECS Governments for International Biodiversity Day

Press Release

A meeting of Caribbean and international environmental experts has called on Governments of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) to refrain from supporting commercial whaling, especially in agreed sanctuary areas, at the upcoming meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC).

The meeting, held in Grenada from 19 to 21 May, was opened by Grenada’s Prime Minister Tillman Thomas who has responsibility for the Environment in the Cabinet of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

The environmental experts drew attention to the fact that their meeting was held on the eve of the International Day for Biodiversity with its theme “Biodiversity, Development and Poverty Alleviation”.   In a special message the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon called for an adjustment of “policies and mindsets to reflect the true value of species and habitats”.

The meeting declared that OECS Governments could show no better response to the Secretary-General’s call than to oppose or abstain on proposals for commercial whaling at the IWC’s Annual Meeting being held June 21-25 in Morocco.

The experts emphasized that the Caribbean has branded itself as an eco-friendly environment for tourism which accounts for the greater part of the area’s GDP, foreign exchange earnings and employment.

“Dead whales are no good to the Caribbean; live ones bring revenues and employment from the whale watching industry. In this regard, the OECS governments should vote in their own interests,” the meeting stated.

Former Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Sir Shridath Ramphal, who participated in the meeting, stated: “I am disturbed that some of our smallest Caribbean countries join Japan in resisting global prohibitions in the International Whaling Commission. Our Region would better serve the cause of global conservation, as well as our own economic interests, by distancing ourselves from this lingering defilement of the Oceans.”

The Experts meeting was organized by the Eastern Caribbean Coalition for Environmental Awareness, the Pew Environment Group, the Kido Foundation and the Grenada Fund for Conservation.