BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – AN international organisation is calling upon the Government of St. Christopher and Nevis to take specific action to prevent a shipment of whale meat from leaving Iceland and shipped to Japan.
AVAAZ is a 41 million-member international movement/organsiation that promotes activism on issues which capture the attention of its members. Its aims is to bridge the gap between the world as it is and that of a better one.
AVAAZ’s Campaign Director Danny Auron, who is currently in St. Kitts, explained to SKNVibes his claim that the vessel, on which the 1 700 tons of whale meat is stored, is registered to and flies the flag of St. Kitts and Nevis.
According to Auron, AVAAZ is asking Prime Minister Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris and the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis to have the flag removed from the ship, thereby rendering it unable to sail.
“We are basically looking to St. Kitts and Nevis to be the hero here for us and help protect whales, not whalers. Every year Iceland basically has a hunt to kill about 150 fin whales, which are red list endangered species under the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) and all trading commercial fin whales is prohibited by a convention in the International Trade of Endangered Species, but Japan, Iceland and Norway have made reservations to this to allow them to do it…
“Last year’s whale meat is currently on a ship called the Winter Bay, which is waiting in dock in Norway to sail to Japan via the icy northern passage. As it happens, the ship Winter Bay is registered to St. Kitts and Nevis. It flies the flag of St. Kitts and Nevis and what the world is asking of Prime Minister Harris and the Government is to remove the St. Kitts flag, to ‘de-flag’ the ship and basically make it impossible to send this endangered whale meat to Japan.”
Auron said he had met with officials from the Foreign Affairs, Agriculture and Maritime Affairs Ministries and indicated that they were receptive to what he proposed, but they did not make any commitment and indicated that it was an internal decision.
SKNVibes spoke with Minister with responsibility for Agriculture and Marine Resources the Hon. Eugene Hamilton, who explained that the Government is in verification phase and, after that process is complete, Cabinet would decide on what action should be taken, if any.
“All of the relevant officials and stakeholders are being asked to ensure that the information that is out there is accurate. And if there is any such accurate information, confirmed information, and if it is a violation of any international law then Cabinet will make the appropriate decision as to what to do under the circumstances.
“But at this point without more, I don’t have all of the information upon which to take any action against any vessel…and so we await further information on that.”
Hamilton however clarified that St. Kitts and Nevis has never taken a stance on pro or anti-whaling, but it has taken a stance for scientific research involving whales.
“The position of St. Kitts and Nevis is very clear. St. Kitts and Nevis has been consistently supporting the scientific research regarding whales or any other special for that matter, and that’s what Japan is doing. We’ve never advocated supporting whaling or against whaling or what have you; but we support the scientific research in relation to whales.”
SKNVibes spoke with Director of Maritime Affairs McClean Hopson who confirmed that the Winter Bay is a St. Kitts-Nevis flag vessel.