Locals butcher whale stranded in Ha’apai

Locals of Foa, Ha’apai have butchered what appears to be a sperm whale found stranded on the island’s beach.

Locals in Foa, Ha’apai have butchered a whale found stranded on a beach. Photos/Supplied

Reports said a member of the public found the whale on a beach near the Foa causeway.

Photos shared on Facebook appear to show some men begin to hack at the animal and slicing its belly.

The event attracted comments from the online community with whale meat lovers reminiscing about the traditional delicacy.

“The best ocean meat ever,” a commenter said.

“About time for Tonga to lift the ban,” another wrote.

A Royal Decree in 1978 banned hunting and killing of whales in the kingdom to help preserve and protect the endangered species.

There were recent calls for the government to lift the ban with advocates suggesting the whale meat could help support Tonga’s fight against cheap, fatty meat and its contribution to the country’s high obesity rate.

It was proposed to kill 10 humpbacks a year to help the local meat stocks.

In 2017 the then Deputy Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni told the Changing Oceania conference in Nuku’alofa that “Since the Royal decree, which banned the hunting of whales in Tongan waters, the Tongan breeding populations have recovered from less than 50 to more than 2000 whales”.

Three countries in the world including Norway, Iceland and Japan allow commercial whaling.

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