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THA wrong to ask for change in hunting ban —Antoine
Tobago-based environmentalist Juliana Antoine sounded off on the hunting moratorium on Wednesday night, saying the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) was misguided in asking for an amendment to the ban. Antoine, who is the manager of Environment Tobago, was speaking at the first Let's Talk Eco Action, a new, monthly networking and discussion forum for environmentalists at the Trinidad Theatre Workshop, Belmont.
The event was organised by the NGO Papa Bois Conservation and the Environmental Network of T&T. Antoine said her organisation was happy about the hunting moratorium because it would give hers and other organisations time to complete a much needed species count in Tobago. She said species, such as otter and deer, have become extinct and the count needed to be completed to establish which other species might be in danger of extinction as well. Antoine said the THA had asked for an amendment to the ban to have some animals, such as agouti, labelled as pets.
She said hunters in Tobago were the most vocal on the issue so far. Antoine noted that hunting was part of Tobago culture but urged people to take the environment into account. “A lot of people in Tobago depend on hunting for their livelihood and it's part of the culture. Everybody eats everything and then say it tastes like chicken. My thing is, why not just eat chicken?” The two-year ban took effect on October 1 and garnered many protests from hunters. In Tobago, there were also issues of hunting outside the hunting season and illegal hunting on private property, said Antoine, which made the ban more important. She said many environmental issues in Tobago were tied up in bureaucracy.
“We need to put politics aside and start enforcing the laws. I’ve been hearing from hunters from day one but what about the environment? I’m not against development but it needs to be done sustainably,” she said. Other speakers at the meeting were biologist and founder of Sustain Innovation initiatives, Dr Nigel Noriega; marine biologist Jahson Alemu; managing director of Sustain T&T Carver Bacchus; and environmental lawyer Caroline Mair.
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