Tourism trumps whaling in Suriname
PARAMARIBO, Suriname, Monday July 16, 2012 – After years of siding with Japan and other countries that favour lifting the moratorium on commercial whaling, Suriname has changed its stance on small-scale commercial whaling.
According to de Ware Tijd, Suriname’s change of heart has come about after realising that whale watching could be potentially more lucrative than whale hunting for the South American-based Caribbean nation.
Now, the Bouterse administration wants to add whales, mainly dolphins in Surinamese waters, to its bio-diversity to attract tourists, reports the news agency.
“We had a different stance before, but that has changed. The incumbent government does not advocate commercial whaling, but rather wants these endangered species to be protected. We might consider advocating whaling for scientific research, but not the large-scale hunt for human consumption,” Foreign Minister Winston Lackin is reported to have said.
However, de Ware Tijd is also reporting that Suriname could still remain sympathetic to Japan’s cause.
Acting permanent secretary for Fisheries, Rene Lieveld, has reportedly said that Suriname’s stance in the International Whaling Commission (IWC) has been explained wrongly. Lieveld, who is Suriname’s newest representative in the IWC, has said that while Suriname never explicitly backed Japan, it sympathized with that country, which is a stance that he still holds.
“Japan has always argued that it first wants to do research on which whales to hunt, ‘and that I can relate to,” Lieveld has been reported as saying.
“Nature continues to produce so man should harvest the surplus,” said Lieveld, a biologist who advocates sustainable use of nature.
Lieveld also revealed to de Ware Tijd that Suriname is yet to exercise its new political stance at an international level as the country sat out the IWC’s 64th annual meeting in Panama last week.
Suriname, a member since 2004, has a backlog in contributions to the IWC since 2011 amounting to about, £11,235 and therefore it has no right to vote in IWC meetings.
Lieveld said in the past Suriname had abstained from voting, but he argued that this was not a real solution, because as a member, Suriname should be able to voice its stance, which needed political direction from government at that level.
However, Lieveld admitted that Foreign Affairs Minister Lackin has said a number of times that Suriname would back the Buenos Aires Group, a Latin American coalition that favours peaceful use of sea mammals and has formed a block against commercial whaling, which Suriname has no commercial interest in since its people do not eat whales.