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DFP commends the government on marine protected areas for sperm whales

DPF Interim Political Leader Bernard Hurtault
Political Leader of the Dominica Freedom Party (DFP) Bernard Hurtault

The Dominica Freedom Party (DFP) commends the Dominica government for recently establishing a marine protected area for sperm whales. Under this initiative, Dominica has designated nearly 300 square miles as a marine reserve, focusing on crucial nursing and feeding grounds for these magnificent creatures. Recognizing that these large, intelligent mammals spend most of their lives in Dominica’s territorial waters, this move acknowledges the view that sperm whales can be considered Dominican citizens, deserving respect and protection in their homeland. The announcement on Monday, November 13th, 2023, is thus commendable.

However, the government must embrace the full spirit of ecological protection, not just those with the best headlines. The current government has repeatedly failed to effectively implement comprehensive ecological protection measures, such as preventing the entry of invasive species like the Cuban tree frog, thoroughly investigating illegal bio-dumping in rivers, and not conducting and releasing upfront environmental impact studies on major infrastructure projects.

A recent article in the British newspaper, The Guardian, brought attention to a devastating ecological catastrophe: the Dominican frog, known as the “crapaud,” has witnessed its population plummets from thousands to a mere 21 due to the invasion of the chytrid fungus. Although some animals have exhibited resistance, government support for a breeding and reintroduction program has been lackluster, and extinction is now imminent. Consequently, while we take the lead in protecting one endangered species, we also risk being remembered in history as the country that allowed the fastest recorded extinction of a wild animal – an animal that is or was, an integral part of our national pride.

The DFP emphasizes the crucial need for ongoing collaboration among opposition parties, government agencies, environmental organizations, and the public to avoid such glaring and damaging disparities. This collaboration is essential to ensuring the effective identification and long-term success of all environmental initiatives. The DFP hopes that such a bipartisan approach indicates our commitment to prioritizing the protection of the beautiful yet fragile ecosystem we call home over party politics.

The Dominica Freedom Party (DFP) intends to contribute to the success of the sperm whale marine reserve but also calls for better protection of our ecosystem during infrastructure projects, as well as a well-resourced crapaud rescue and recovery effort. This renewed effort would signal to the world that Dominica is fully committed to a blue-green economy, a vital need for its future. Additionally, these efforts will strengthen our nation’s institutional capacity to address critical scientific and technical challenges—a critical need for becoming a serious, innovation-driven nation.

This DFP approach of bipartisanship, rescue, and recovery is not new. The DFP has a well-established history of playing this role even in the most tumultuous times. With the current worsening state of our economy, failing infrastructure, and oppressive cost of living, it is evident that our nation is once again in difficult times and in dire need of such approaches. We thus ask all our fellow citizens to join us in not just embracing the sperm whale, but in rescuing the crapaud. It is not just about these species; more importantly, it’s about our will and capacity to rescue and recover all aspects of our nation. In the end, building these muscles of rescue and recovery is widely needed not only for saving these creatures but also for saving the Dominican dream.