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Whaling comparable to Vincy Mas – Ollivierre

Whaling comparable to Vincy Mas – Ollivierre

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A whaler in Bequia has compared the island’s whaling culture to Vincy Mas and says the tradition would end only if the government or the International Whaling Commission (IWC) says so.{{more}}

“The National Trust cannot dictate [to] the Carnival committee … to tell them they can’t have Carnival,” 57-year-old Orson “Bailum” Ollivierre told SEARCHLIGHT last Saturday at his home in Bequia.

“We have a culture of 150 years. Which National Trust could come tell us change our culture, our traditional way of life?” Ollivierre said of the tradition, introduced in 1876.

Ollivierre was responding to chair of the National Trust Louise Mitchell-Joseph, who said, on July 18, that she does not support whaling and that her organization will sensitize the Bequia community about whale watching.

But Ollivierre told SEARCHLIGHT that he “worked hard to save Bequia whaling” when his uncle Othneil Ollivierre — hailed by a calypsonian as “the greatest whaler man” — was preparing to retire in the early 1990s.

“The National Trust, they talk stupidness; they talk sh**,” he said.

Since the tradition was revived in the 1990s, Ollivierre said, many young people have learnt the art.

He said that he and another 60-year-old whaler are the oldest among Bequians practising the art.

“I am glad for that because I know that so long as the International Whaling Commission allows us to whale, whaling will continue.

“… Why these people ‘round here, when they want to push up themselves try to criticise and try to put people out of their way of live and their traditional way of life?” he said of Vincentian critics of whaling.

“We have to preserve what we have,” Ollivierre said and added that he opposes over-whaling.

“But we are not over-whaling. … we are under-whaling. We are taking less than what they (the IWC) give.”

The IWC allows whalers on Bequia — who use traditional methods — to kill four whales annually.

“If the International Whaling Commission comes and say, ‘Bequia, you can’t whale’, we have to abide. Or if the government comes and say ‘Alyo can’t whale’, we have to abide.

“But you can’t have one or two people … saying this and that and forming all kind of organisation and say the people of Bequia must stop whaling,” Ollivierre told SEARCHLIGHT.

“Let them (the National Trust) go in Trinidad and stop their carnival. Let them come in St Vincent and stop their carnival, their culture. …

“People must live with what we have. But we must limit our resources. We have to know how far to go with it,” Ollivierre said.

I started my whaling. When I am ready to quit, I gwine (going to) quit,” added Ollivierre, who further said he whales in consultation with the Ministry of Fisheries.

“I [am] working with no other man out there. … What the government says to me is what I have to abide with. So people must understand: do not take people’s traditional way of life, their culture from them, because nobody in life don’t like that,” he said. (KXC)

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