Whalers process three orcas in Barrouallie on Monday, one day after they were killed. (iWN photo)

By Kenton X. Chance

The whaler whose crew harpooned and killed three orcas off Barrouallie, a town in western St. Vincent, on Sunday, has defended his action, saying that the kill is important to the livelihood of townsmen, and that they have broken no local law.

Three orcas, one male and two females, measuring 30 and 24 feet, were caught as they scattered a pod of short-finned pilot whales that the whalers were initially pursuing, the captain of the crew, Samuel Hazelwood, told iWitness News on Monday.

Hazelwood, who has been whaling for more than 30 years, spoke to iWitness News amidst a group of hostile whaling industry workers who were carving up the carcasses for resale to vendors.

He was mindful of the negative press that comes with the killing of orcas, but noted that the government was yet to pass a law banning the killing of orcas, as Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said in April 2016 that his government would have done.

“The prime minister said he is going to ban them (the killing of orcas). I have been fishing for 30-something years now and I came and met the older fishermen catching the killer whales. They say it is endangered [but] when you go and research on YouTube and Facebook, it is not an endangered species,” Hazelwood told iWitness News.

In April 2016, amidst local and international outcry after the whalers harpooned and killed two orcas in the presence of cruise visitors on a whale and dolphin watch tour, Gonsalves had said that his government would pass a law to ban the killing of orcas.

Hazelwood said that Barrouallie whalers would obey such a law if it were passed.

“The prime minister said he is going to ban us. Whenever he put the ban in place like the [ban on the catching of ] turtle and they say stop catch them (orcas), we [will] adhere. But there is no law right now to say don’t catch them. This is something that we have been doing for centuries,” Hazelwood told iWitness News.

“Whenever they put the ban,” we don’t have any problems.

He said that on Sunday, his brother called him saying that he was pursuing a pod of pilot whales.

“And when we were chasing the black fish, the killer whales came and started running them down [so] we couldn’t catch any. When you see them (orcas), life is really difficult for us.”

Hazelwood accused the prime minister of not understanding the plight of Barrouallie whalers and those who depend on the industry for their livelihood.

“This is something that a lot of people in Barrouallie [depend on]. These killer whales that we catch here today, you are going to get more than a hundred and something people making a money for the day. All of the shops are going to benefit, so it is something that we make good money from.”

Whaler Samuel Hazelwood has defended his actions, saying he has broken no law and is ensuring his own livelihood. (iWN photo)

Hazelwood said that the only parts of the whales that are thrown away are the bones and the intestines.

“Everything [else] is sold: teeth, everything,” he said.

In St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the meat of the whale is cooked fresh, or dried. The oil is use in the treatment of a number of ailments and after the oil is removed from the blubber by frying it, the processed blubber, called “crisps” is eaten as a snack.

Hazelwood told iWitness News that fishermen go out to sea every day, but only meet killer whales about four times annually.

He, however, said that when orcas are in the area, whalers could go for two months without catching pilot whales.

Barrouallie whalers have been killing short-finned pilot whales as part of a century-plus-old tradition in this multi-island nation.

In Bequia, an island in the northern Grenadines, the International Whaling Commission allows whalers to kill four humpback whales every year as part of their century-old indigenous whaling tradition, but whalers sometime go for years without a single kill.

The orcas, on Sunday, bring to nine the number of the cetaceans that Barrouallie whalers are known to have killed since 2015, when four orcas were killed.

A whaling industry insider, who asked not to be named in this article, told iWitness News on Monday that it is highly unlikely that the Gonsalves-led Unity Labour Party administration would pass a law banning the killing the orcas before the next general election.

Whaling industry workers process an orca carcass in Barouallie on Monday. (iWN photo)

Gonsalves’ government is into a second consecutive term with a one-seat majority in the nation’s parliament and the commenter told iWitness News that the Barrouallie whalers and their extended families are largely supporters of the ruling Unity Labour Party.

To ban the killing of orcas would amount to taking food out of the mouths of the whalers and other persons who benefit from the industry and they will punish the government at the polls for it, the industry insider told iWitness News on Monday.

Meanwhile, speaking on radio in April 2016, days after iWitness News broke the news of the killing of the orcas, Gonsalves condemned the whalers’ action.

“… what he did was plain wrong. Not just because it happened in front of tourists, but [because] he must not kill the orcas.”

The prime minister noted that there is an international ban on the killing of bottlenose dolphins, and killer whales and SVG has signed on to the ban.

He further noted that four killer whales were killed in the Central Leeward town in July 2015.

“And the fourth one, they had so much meat that some of the meat spoiled,” Gonsalves said.

“What will happen is that legislation will be brought to stop that killing. It will be made an offence in the same way we have done with turtles,” said Gonsalves, whose government banned the killing of turtles, harvesting of their eggs or disturbance of their nests, effective Jan. 1, 2017.

30 COMMENTS

  1. This is wrong in all sense. Yes you defending your lively hood and keeping your tradition alive that’s understandable, but you kill three of the most beautiful creatures on earth. If you kill one it’s over 2000lbs of meet that’s enough to support the very few people who eat them.
    It’s a very bad look from all angles, you making sure you eat while the man who have his business in whale watching have to suffer. What about his lively hood is it not necessary for there kids to enjoy a comfortable life as well. It’s just open the wounds wider in our tourism industry when this hits international boarders.
    Q. If you gave three cattle in your back yard to help support your family, would you kill all three of them the same day knowing that the demand for the beef is not high?

    • It’s really easy for us once our bellies are full to castigate other people. Those who are familiar with that area of the country knows how difficult it is to earn a living there. Unemployment is very high and the agricultural sector is a shadow of its former self and here we are criticising people for killing a mere 3 orcas for food. Am all for protecting endangered species, but until the economy improves the people are the endangered species that have to be protected first.

      • It’s not about castigating other people it’s about not being greedy and cruel. Those or orcas worth a few thousands dollars dead compare to how much they worth alive. If those orcas were the last three orcas in and around our waters someone lively hood just shutdown for something over a short term.
        Why kill all three when other people have use for them also which brings me right back to my question.
        . If you have three cattle in your back yard to help support your family, would you kill all three of them the same day knowing that the demand for the beef is not high

      • oh my GOD!! how anybody can defend the killing of orcas for food is amazing! ITs not only them that live in this world, WE ALL DEPEND on the OCEAN, and the OCEAN is in DANGER. Whales are a very very important part of what WE need. They are super important to the environment. “Even whale poop plays a large role in the environment by helping to offset carbon in the atmosphere.

        Studies have shown that the nutrients in sperm whale poop helps stimulate the growth of phytoplankton which pull carbon from the atmosphere to provide a cleaner and healthier breathing environment for all animals.

        Estimates state that as much as 400,000 tonnes of carbon are extracted from the air due to these whales each year!

        In additional to feeding carbon fighting phytoplankton the fact that whale poop stimulates the growth of phytoplankton means that it also helps feed other species that feed on phytoplankton for their survival.”

        BESIDES whales, and especially killer whales are super similar to humans in behavior. These people are going straight to hell…and so is anybody that can defend their actions.

  2. Orcas are top of the food chain predators and have high levels of heavy metals in their meat.This can’t be good for human consumption.

  3. The killing of these Orcas are unjustified in every sense. However, I quite understand the sentiments expressed by the fisherman. He said he asked for equipment to assist them in catching other species of fish but the fisheries department did not respond. These killing are a consequence of the indecisiveness of the Government. The legislation should have already been passed and possible alternatives identified. Unfortunately, there are likely to be repercussions these killings.

    Fishing can be a very lucrative for Vincentians and can help reduce the unemployment gap. The Government needs to launch an initiative to empower more coastal residence to make their living from our valuable fisheries. Build more docks and marinas along the coast, form cooperatives, identify economies of scale for the procurement and use of fishing aparatus, and source more affordable fishing trawlers and long line fishing boats. These are simple measures that can be taken to create more opportunities for our people.

  4. Living in the stone age. no wonder. They don’t even know that rest of the world are in the second quantum revolution. What is wrong with you people? If that island was inhabited by whites it would be booming. look at Africa then look at the rest of the world. What do you see? Finally, SVG in the world news for violating and killing an endangered species. The worse part is that they don’t even know what they have done. What a la la.

    • Africa? First of all orcas are not endangered; second of all, Iceland (in Europe) is killing Fin whales, an endangered species

    • Disgusting Racist comment R. Faroe islands also hunt whales for their meat and guess what colour their skin is. You obviously don’t understand this situation. If people have no employment and limited access to make money then they do what they do to survive. I don’t agree with this but I am not in their situation. Also why is an orca better than a tuna fish or a pointer whale or for that matter a cow?? Many of us eat animals without seeing the reality of the situation. Back to my first comment….. people are not the colour of their skin. People are individuals formed through their experiences, family and environment no one is defined by their skin colour. Your racist comment just ruined my morning 🙁

  5. Orcas are not endangered. Hunting orcas feed many ppl and support many families. Let’s be honest, not many ppl directly benefit from whale watching tours. SVG is being bullied and unfairly targeted. SVG’s whaling practices are sustainable unlike other countries like japan.

  6. 9 orcas to date since 2015. Does that not tell us that they are really dependent on it as food. SVG is a tiny island. What sort of damage are they really causing on a global scale? I know nothing about SVG laws, but maybe some sort of licensing be put in place. Not sure what licensing will do but it may just deter people from whaling too much. This scenario reminds me of the situation with Dominica, where the PM indicated that no matter what environmental protection you try to have, the smaller nations will always suffer because their footprint is minuscule compare to bigger, more developed nations….and in the end they still got wiped out.

    I hope Gonsalves does not ban whaling. He seems to have a ‘tell it like it is’ attitude. Hope he has the same strength to tell the tourists that this time, they will have to deal with the thought of people eating whale meat.
    Heard it is like steak, btw….wouldn’t mind trying myself…medium rare!

  7. Indeed, in SVG Sea-Turtles are now protected by law since Jan 2017. However, in spite of the existing legislation the so-called ‘turtle sanctuary’ on Bequia, better to be named ‘Turtle Prison’ continues in full swing for commercial reasons as hundreds of turtle hatchlings are being poached every year to replace the hundreds of the provious haul. Most of those have since vanished! This operation should be closed down or converted into a scientifically monitored marine sanctuary, where only a few tutrles besides other marine creatures could be studied and admired.

  8. The Government should ban this immediately, or a full out boycott of this island as a tourist or Cruise destination will likely come into play. These orcas are worth way more alive to the local economy drawing whale watching enthusiasts from all over the world.filling hotel rooms, restaurants, bars and beaches for years to come ,Instead these sentient, intelligent marine mammals are being hacked up on your beaches. Beaches that I am no longer interested in visiting again until a ban comes into effect,

  9. The Canadian government and the European Union need to weigh in on this. If they honor the ban then the states that receive support from them can be influenced to enforce the ban or make whatever laws they need to make to stop this killing. Killing cetaceans is not like killing a deer. They are sentient beings not cattle. Evolve already SVG!

  10. Vincentians don’t have a mind of their own, we flip flop on emotions. We have been whaling for centuries. How many whales do we catch a year? I can see you either setting a quota or a season. This is a unique tradition to SVG, this is a form of livelihood, this is what has sustained the Barrouallie community for decades. What about the Tri Tri? These are baby fishes that are not allowed to developed to produce more Tri Tri. We can go on and on.
    Then we should not kill cattle, goats, pigs, fowl, fishes…
    Have you ever seen the way a cattle or a pig is killed??

  11. Sentient sentient sentient. I am so tired of hearing that word. All it really means is that a creature has sensory organs. A cockroach would qualify.

  12. uneducated monkeys killing our beautiful planet , for the sake of having another baby. Puke on these people.

  13. Really good reporting from Kenton Chance. Maybe he should make a whole documentary film so you people can understand the reach of what you are witnessing. There are of course three sides to every story. Nonetheless, I felt disgusted to watch this. I couldn’t even watch the whole video. It is not racism, it is self-criticism.

  14. Boycott these islands 100% and make the government there crack down on these scumbags, and stop making excuses for their filthy actions !!!

  15. This fisherman is an uneducated moron in its true sense. What he knows about scientific data that the orca are not a threatened species?Scientific data is valuable to him when it counts. How about conservatiom? The blame surely falls on the government for being complacent on the who matter and is sending a wrong message. last year a tourist ship by passed St Vincent for the very reason. They were hit financially in their pockets. More of these actions need to be exercised in order to curtailed the killing of these lovely creatures.Others may say that they crime rate in Vincent is high for a small country much less to the killing of orcas. They killed human more Savagely much less to orcas.

  16. We kill foul, pig ,cattle ,rabbit , goat ,,sheep,some monkeys,horse, catch fish lobster crayfish whale , shark all sort of other sort of other animals by the millions make money ,eat them as food and I have not heard seen or read any article by Kenton Chance and the animal consciences expressed their concerns for these innocent beautiful creators. HYPOCRITES

  17. Stop having so many children!!!! Fewer people, fewer mouths to feed. I am so tired of people saying they can’t feed their children. You should have thought about that BEFORE you had them. Feeding them mercury laden meat is a really bad idea. They grow up brain damaged, I guess that’s what happened to these people. Japan, tbe Faroes, all of you, are savages. I wish nothing but harm and misfortune on all of you. Karma is a bitch, and I hope she kills you!!

  18. All you ‘sensory’ people who chatting about couldn’t watch video, have you ever seen a Cattle, Pig or Rabbit killed. The cattle is stabbed in the neck, the pig is sometimes stabbed or hit on the head several times, a rabbit is hit on the head. People, wake up!!!! Start thinking for your own selves. Kenton’s video should not cause any stir, actually I see it as enlightening! Do we cry shame on the men who rape our women and girls? OOh, I see again it depends on who is the ‘raper man!!!’ Japan kills whales like how we change our clothes, has anyone of you ever cried shame????

  19. The relevant legislation has not been enacted simply because the electoral seat where Barrouallie is located which was won by the governing party in 2015 is still being contested in the courts.

    Given that the ruling party won the 2015 national election by only one seat, if a new election is called in Barrouallie and the promised ban on orca fishing were now in place, the ruling party would likely lose the seat thereby resulting in their loss of power.

    So, this is not about protecting a possibly endangered animal species; it is about protecting a potentially endangered political party.

  20. Kenton, what was your goal in posting this video? What tourism you plp keep referring too about whale watching you honestly believe tourists come to st Vincent to watch whales… do they even come to St Vincent. Vincentians need to wake up and start thinking for themselves the white man come to our country and tell us this is not right and we go with that. This is a tradition for years in our town of barroullie embrace it! We always want to copy or have someone tell us what to do. Many countries out there have many different traditions who are you outsider to tell us this is not right. This is why many of us don’t know our black history we only know what the white man tells us. Stop being slaves in your own country! Embrace who we are as a community Bagga people.

  21. I think that many will be outraged by the videotaping of the whales being cut up on the beach. And there are many points of view on the matter. St. Vincent is a poor country and many of the people in the region of the country where this happened count on this for their livihood. If you know anything about St. Vincent, you know that tourism is not the main source of income, and folks don’t go to St. Vincent to (primarily) whale watch.

    I am disturbed by some of the racist and hateful comments posted by people who I’m willing to bet don’t even know where St. Vincent is, and are not aware of the struggles faced by the fishermen. Before making judgement and wishing them death, take a trip to the island and speak to the people. The people here survive on fishing and agriculture. These sea creatures will provide food and income for many people for months. They are not hunting on a commercial scale. These men go out in small fishing boats, and fish every day to feed their families and communities. If you want to be outraged do a Google search on whaling and you will find that Japan, Norway and Iceland have very large whaling operations, killing thousands of whales among the three nations. Apparently Japan gives away whale meat, because they catch so many. Vincentian fishermen have killed 7 whales in 3 years (on the main land, according to this article), which are completely consumed. None of the whale goes to waste (except the intestines). This seems like a very sustainable number with little impact on the environment as a whole. This has been done for thousands of years first by the natives and now by their descendants.

    Comments about the people being ignorant is uncalled for. Note that St. Vincent, as well as many other countries around he world, is a small nation. Highly educated folks usually aren’t fishermen because it’s very hard work. Fishing is usually a tradition passed down from generation to generation. Further, this video was shot in a rural area. I believe that if you go to rural areas of highly developed counteies you will find a similar situation. And do not equate lack of education with ignorance. I know many educated people who are quite ignorant.

    It’s easy to criticize when you are not in that persons shoes.

    I will not comment on the remarks about politics and politicians, as this issue seems to me to be about the livelihood of a community. However, if the fishermen are not allowed to fish then there must be alternate sources of income provided for them to survive.

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