Sunday, November 11, 2012

Traditional Hunting should back sustainability

or at least it used to before present times. This article appeared in the Daily Mail yesterday and highlights the change of the traditional sperm whale hunt in a remote village in Indonesia. (Graphic Pictures!)

The area of Lamalera on the south coast of Lembata has the right to traditionally hunt sperm whales, however due to declining numbers they have widened their species list to include dolphins, mantas and sharks. The methods are still traditional, where the fishermen used man power and spears to catch the animals, however should it still be classed as traditional when they have changed species and are now targeting a wide range of marine animals. The pictures of the sharks and dolphins being caught shows just how much more prolific the tradition may become and a wider range of species being targeted and demised.

Back when the hunts were done and tradition was in the now, they would not have had massive long liners scouring the ocean, the method of shark finning was not as it is today and there are not the population and economic challenges of the here and now.

Are these taken into consideration when the quotas and traditions are looked at in order to maintain a healthy balance?

There are many cases of traditional hunting changing through out the world, the Bowhead whales that are captured by the Inuit came under focus recently when heavy machinery was used in order to catch the whales due to weather changes.

Any method of traditional hunting or capture is regarded for the sake of maintaining tribal/cultural aspects of life, however when do we consider that it is no longer a tradition but a way of life that is trying to adapt to socio economic and demographic change rather than the cultural sustainability.

Take for example in Tonga, turtles have been hunted for years, there is a long track going back hundreds of years and it was a way of showing wealth to elders and nobility. Now regulations are in place but not enforced to allow the traditional hunt for 5 months a year. These regulations if enforced and abided by would not only protect turtles during mating and nesting periods but also to sustain a population so that traditions can continue.

 I have no problem with traditional hunting as long as it remains within the boundaries of the what the species can allow and does not change to modern methods in order to catch the specific quota. When traditional hunting turns in to economic gain, there needs to be a change in the ways the hunting is effecting on a greater demand the species being targeted.

Many years ago, tradition and sustainability worked hand in hand, however the fingers seems to have become wider apart and the sustainability maybe slipping through those wider gaps.

I am sure there would be a lot of opposition if tribes and cultures stated cannibalism as a traditional right to continue!