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We should be allowed to make an honest living without harassment – Whaler

We should be allowed to make an honest living without harassment – Whaler


by Joreen Francis

Persons opposed to whaling should consider how much the people of a community like Barrouallie benefit when a whale is caught.

Samuel Hazelwood, the Barrouallie whaler who caught three killer whales (orcas) last Saturday expressed this view to SEARCHLIGHT in an interview on Tuesday evening, saying that it{{more}} is only when fish or whales are caught that his community comes alive.

“The only time Barrouallie does bright is when those bay seines catch fish and like when the pilot whales or the killer whale is being caught, because quite a lot of people, more than 100 people are being employed daily when the boats make a catch.”

He said the whaling industry provides a means for many people in his community to make an honest living during hard times.

Hazelwood said he went out to sea at 9 a.m. last Saturday and it wasn’t until 13 hours later, at 10 p.m., that he and other whalers from the community were able to bring the huge mammals to shore.

“Only the cock (male) was a bit hard to kill because of the size, but the other two female white fish was not difficult to catch.”

According to Hazelwood, the largest of the whales, the male, was about eight metres als.

(26 feet) in length, while one female was approximately 22 feet and the other 20 feet in length.

A calf was also caught by two other whalers, something Hazelwood said he does not like to do.

Hazelwood said he, Ardan Rocque and Wayne Steven used a harpoon gun to catch the orcas. He said the harpoon that is used in the gun is tied with a rope to buoys so that when they shoot, they throw the buoys, overboard.

“Sometimes one harpoon would kill one of the killer whales, but sometimes we might have to use two or three harpoons to kill one whale,” he said.

Although Hazelwood was the first fisherman to spot the whales, he and his crew of two were not the only ones gunning for the mammals.

Fifty-three-year-old Calbert Steven, another fisherman of Barrouallie told SEARCHLIGHT that after Hazelwood saw the whales off the coast of Barrouallie, other whalers joined the chase.

“Each fishing crew would go out at sea and try their luck,” Steven said.

Despite the competition among the crews, Hazelwood said the other whalers assisted him in surrounding the whales and bringing them to land.

Reflecting on the practice of whaling, Hazelwood said whenever whales are caught in his community and people post photographs on Facebook, there is normally a lot of criticism from the international community, something he finds unfair as Caribbean fishermen learnt to catch whales in North America and Europe.

“They need to realize they were the ones who came to the Caribbean and took our fishermen, took them back to those places, when they used to catch whales, but because now they could live without catching them they … send back our fishermen. That was when our fishermen in the Caribbean start catching whales. But now they could live without catching whales they want us to stop catch them now and that is not really fair. They have to understand things in the world is rough and we are making an honest living and they should really give us a chance without harassing us so much that is what I am concerned about.”

He also made the point that persons in the international community do not disclose that too many whales in the ocean is not good for the fisheries.

“When we have too much whales in the ocean fishermen is going to catch less tuna, less dolphin and less king fish because the whale consumes three times more fishes in the world’s oceans than what all the fishing fleet in the world catch per year, just think about it.”

Hazlewood mentioned that whalers in Barrouallie catch killer whales only once or twice a year “if they are lucky,” so it should not be a big issue for people because whaling is not consistent.

He said the mammals caught last Saturday were not the largest they have ever caught.

“We catch about three bigger ones than that a few years a back already on three different occasions.”

The International Whaling Commission (IWC) quotas for 2013 to 2018 allow the whalers of the Grenadine island of Bequia to take no more than 24 humpback whales during that period (or four per year).

Barrouallie on the other hand has a tradition of taking pilot whales (black fish), but hunting killer whales (orcas or white fish) is also not uncommon in that rural west coast town. Although the IWC regulates the taking of ‘Great Whales’ such as the humpback, their jurisdiction over small cetaceans such as the pilot whale and the killer whale is disputed.

In recent years, certain groups, including the St Vincent and the Grenadines National Trust have been seeking to persuade local whalers that more money can be made from whale and dolphin watching than from hunting the mammals.