RUSEAU, Nov 21 (IPS) – Roosevelt Skerrit is Prime Minister of Dominica. In Dominica, we are privileged to have more than 50 sperm whale families living in the calm waters off our west coast as fellow citizens. Living in matrilineal societies ruled by grandmothers and mothers, these enormous creatures spend time in our waters diving deep for squid, giving birth and raising their young.
Unfortunately, from the busy American West Coast to a remote island in Western Australia, the world’s largest mammals are showing signs of distress. Mass die-offs, mysterious illnesses, ship strikes and puzzling behavioral changes make it clear that whales need a lifeline.
As a small developing state, we are proud of our resident sperm whale population and inspired to prioritize nature in everything we do – as frontiers to the global impacts of climate change driven by extra-regional activities which threaten the natural environment on an international scale. ladder.
In 2009, we ended our support for the commercial whaling industry with the International Whaling Commission (IWC), after a long history of supporting this economic activity, a tradition for some of our international whaling partners and benefactors. fishing sector and we proudly announced our vision of becoming the first climate resilient nation to the United Nations in September 2017.
In recent years, however, our resident sperm whales have not been treated with the respect they deserve. With increased maritime activities, they are often struck by ships, entangled in plastic waste, and threatened by other human threats that negatively impact their habitat.
With rising ocean temperatures in the region, the increased intensity and incidence of potential climate-driven catastrophic events may further reduce their numbers or drive their migration to the cooler northern ocean. It is therefore clear that since 2008, our sperm whale families have been in constant decline.
It is for this reason that I present, on behalf of the Government and people of the Commonwealth of Dominica, this declaration of our strong commitment to the establishment of a sanctuary for the protection of our resident sperm whale population. This sperm whale reserve will become the first marine protected area designed specifically to preserve the marine habitat of whales, essential for them to thrive in this pristine environment along the west coast of Dominica and is in line with our commitment under the sustainable development goals to increase the total area. protected marine area within our exclusive economic zone.
By creating a sanctuary for our whale families, we are not only helping them and the ocean. We directly contribute to improving and sustaining life underwater and protecting the economy – benefits that extend to our local fishermen, tour operators and people around the world – while strengthening resilience to the impacts of climate change.
Marine scientists have shared a surprising but little-known fact: whales are incredibly effective at sequestering climate pollution. After diving deep into the ocean to hunt squid found in the deep marine waters of Waitukubuli, they return to the surface to breathe, rest and defecate. Their defecation infuses the water with deep minerals, nitrogen and iron that allow tiny organisms, phytoplankton, to grow and, in turn, absorb carbon.
Through this “whale pump” system, our efforts to protect Dominica’s whales are equivalent to removing 5,000 cars from the road each year. Simply by hunting, eating and defecating, these whales can help keep climate change at bay, at no cost to us all, with great potential to generate new sources of income.
The whaling reserve will strengthen one of our most important industries – ecotourism – with Dominica being one of the few places in the world where sperm whales can be reliably spotted on whale watching or swimming tours. whales.
Developing Dominica as a haven for sperm whales will allow us to maintain our vibrant tourism industry without endangering our natural environment or fisheries.
We hope that through the Sperm Whale Reserve we will create a new model that will benefit a wide range of stakeholders, particularly in the tourism and fishing sectors. We recognize that as a small island developing State with limited resources, we have the opportunity, through this humble act of protecting the whales that inhabit Dominica, to make a profound impact in the region and around the world , and to be considered a great ocean. State.
As we launch this program to create the world’s first sperm whale reserve, we encourage all nations, everywhere, who have the honor and privilege of including whales as bona fide citizens, to join us in our commitment to protecting our living marine resources. -before it is too late.
© Inter Press Service (2023) — All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service