SOURCE: CMC – The St. Lucia government says while killer whales are not listed as an endangered species, it is disturbed at the recent distribution of pictures and video footage showing the “capture and landing of a marine mammal of the order, Cetacea.
In a statement, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Food security and Rural Development said Cetaceans include whales, dolphins and porpoises and that St. Lucia has adopted a sustainable use policy and as such there has been the traditional use of Cetaceans utilising the meat.
“Based on the distinguishing features, the animal landed has been identified as an orca or killer whale (Scientific name: Orcinus orca), which is a toothed whale belonging to the oceanic dolphin family, of which it is the largest member.
“The Fisheries Act Cap. 7.15 of the Revised Laws of St. Lucia makes provision for the promotion and regulation of fishing and fisheries in the fishery waters of Saint Lucia. According to Section 38 of the Regulations, “A person shall not take, kill, damage or fish for any marine mammal or any species of marine mammals in any bay or harbour of St.Lucia.”
In the statement, the ministry said that it has been advised that the animal was not captured in a bay or harbour and can confirm that the fishing vessel was licensed to fish.
“As such the captain and crew of the vessel complied with the requirements of the Fisheries Act,” it said, adding that “killer whales are considered Data Deficient on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened species and as such, are not listed as an endangered species.
“The Ministry recognises that marine mammals are known to be charismatic animal species with symbolic value or widespread popular appeal; however, it is important to maintain a balanced perspective,” the statement added.
But the fisherman involved in the capture and slaying of the whale, told local media that while he is aware of criticism on social media, fishing today is a very difficult job in the current socio-economic climate here.
“Going fishing out there is not easy. Sometimes you go fishing and for a whole week it’s just gas burning and you don’t catch anything. So fishing is not like you knowing you going to fish and you are going to catch tuna or lobster,” said Sylvester Cyris.
Cyris explained that the whale he and his partner caught was one of hundreds they spotted when they went out to sea.