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Whale watching not feasible for Bequia – Whaler

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If whale watching in Bequia were feasible, it would have started before the birth of Louise Mitchell-Joseph, chair of the National Trust, a whaler told SEARCHLIGHT on Sunday.{{more}}

The fisherman, who has been whaling for 12 years, did not want to be identified by name, saying foreign reporters bombard him with phone calls on the issue.

Mitchell-Joseph is against whaling and said last week that the National Trust will this year sensitise residents of Bequia about the benefits of whale watching.

“Louise like she don’t know all the background about whale watching,” the 60-year-old man told SEARCHLIGHT.

Whaling is “very important to Bequia culture, knowing that the island is known for whaling for so long,” the man said of the tradition that began in 1876.

“A lot of people would want to see the thing go on, not forever, but for a long time,” he further stated and added that Bequia is not suited for whale watching.

He said that only a few Vincentians, and tourists who are especially interested in the marine cetaceans are likely to join a whale watching tour.

“A business like that in Bequia, I don’t think it will [do well],” he told SEARCHLIGHT, under a shed where he builds boats and stores his whaling paraphernalia.

“When you talk about whale watching, you have to have what you call resident whales around. For instance, Dominica has sperm whales; you can go almost everyday and find whales,” he said.

“The whale we harpoon around Bequia is what you call migrating whales. They don’t hang around here, they just pass and you see them for a couple hours and they [are] gone.”

He said a whale-watching expedition from Bequia could result in disgruntled participants.

“So, they keep telling us about whale watching. If it was something feasible, she (Mitchell-Joseph) won’t have had to tell us that.

“… Long before she born, we would have been whale watching. A thing that we could make money from, we won’t ah do it?” the whaler told SEARCHLIGHT.

But Hallam (Hal) Daize, who has been conducting whale and dolphin watch tours for 25 years, told SEARCHLIGHT on Wednesday that the

whaling and tourist seasons coincide.

He said that a

whale watching tour from Bequia could revolve around the story of the island’s transition from a whale hunting to a whale watching locale.

He said the potential profits of whale watching are being affected by the whaling culture.

“We are at loggerheads, because we have whale catching and people who tend to like to whale watch don’t like to support economies based on whale catching.

“… The European Union will not give us financing to support whale watching, once people continue to catch whales and there might be other bodies that might so do.”

He said that it might be feasible to conduct land-based whale watching expeditions in Bequia, in much the same way that whalers do when looking for the creatures.

“On Bequia, the story, equipment, the boats, etc are of paramount importance to the package,” Daize said, adding, “I am subject to correction.” (KXC)

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