Unlikely nation in spotlight at global whaling talks
St. Vincent and the Grenadines, encompassing just 340 square kilometers (130 sq. mi) and 105,000 people in the eastern Caribbean, is better known for its banana production and high-end tourism than for its role in international negotiations.
But the tiny Commonwealth nation gets outsized attention at annual meetings of the 88-nation International Whaling Commission (IWC). In those deliberations, intended to establish global policy for preserving whale stocks, St. Vincent and the Grenadines regularly faces off against anti-whaling nations in insisting on its rights to hunt humpback whales.
That insistence generated more than the usual tension at this year’s meeting, held July 2-6 in Panama City, where St. Vincent and the Grenadines won an extension of its quota to kill four humpback whales a year through 2018. The quota, excluding the country from restrictions on humpback whaling that have been in place since the 1970s, was granted under a special provision for aboriginal hunters who have a nutritional and cultural need to kill whales and can do so without affecting the overall population of the targeted species.