Despite Protections, Marine Species Still Targeted in the Caribbean

AWI has long been involved in the United Nations Caribbean Environment Programme, and specifically its Protocol Concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW Protocol), which prohibits the taking of listed flora and fauna species. Sea turtles and orcas are listed species and are therefore protected. Yet this past summer, opportunistic whalers from SPAW Protocol signatory St. Vincent and the Grenadines hunted and killed four orcas believed to be a family group. Rumors circulated of an additional 10 killed by summer’s end. Another signatory, St. Lucia, is again allowing the harvest from October 1 through December 31 of three species of endangered sea turtles, including the critically endangered hawksbill turtle. Clearly, work is needed to make the protocol more meaningful. To this end, AWI is using its position on a SPAW Protocol working group, which is tasked with defining the procedure by which exemptions are taken under the agreement, to prevent such blatant disregard of its provisions.

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