13 Apr 2021

Calls to lift Tonga whale hunting ban expected to fail

7:35 am on 13 April 2021

The chances of Tonga lifting its ban on whale hunting appear very slim.

Tonga is one of the few countries in the world where it is legal for people to swim with whales, although some conservationists are calling for an end to commercial swimming with whales operations.

This photograph taken on August 4, 2008 shows a humpback whale diving near the island of Vava'u in Tonga. Photo: DAVID BROOKS / AFP

According to our Tonga correspondent, there are calls to lift the ban so Tongans, struggling through the pandemic, could enjoy healthy whale meat, instead of eating fatty imports.

Kaniva Pacific reports that after a whale stranding in Ha'apai, where people gleefully chopped away the meat, there have social media calls to allow hunting of what some see as a delicacy.

But Kalafi Moala said with Tonga's whale watching industry a major part of the tourism sector, no government would look at rescinding the Royal Edict of 1978 which banned whale hunting.

"I don't think, among our leaders anyway, there is any thinking that 'yeah maybe we should lift the ban' I think there is a strong commitment from within Tonga and there's pressure from the development partners overseas as well to not go back to the lifting of the ban. Whalewatching is the way to go not whale eating."