‘I am superbly worried’: West Coast fishermen await decision on restrictions meant to protect orcas

November 25, 2018

A year after the Department of Fisheries and Oceans closed off several West Coast sports fishing area to protect orcas, fishermen say they’re worried more closures are on the way along southern Vancouver Island. 

In 2017, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans closed several areas in the Juan de Fuca Strait to commercial and sport fishing between June and October.

The closure was part of the DFO’s efforts to protect a dwindling population of about 74 southern resident killer whales that feed on chinook salmon, which inhabit those waters in that time period.

Ryan Chamberland, president of the Sooke Region Tourism Association and owner of the Vancouver Island Lodge, says more closures would devastate the small fishing villages along the coast.

“Closing us down — ruining towns, everyone losing equity in their assets and properties, is not going to solve an issue, it’s going to create a crisis,” Chamberland said.

“No one wants to lose their houses and jobs and and their way of lifestyle and opportunities to be on the water.”

The concerns of sports fishermen come at a time when some marine mammal experts say the closures might not even help the endangered southern resident killer whale.

In November, Ottawa announced it wants to establish new areas of critical habitat off the west coast of Vancouver Island for southern resident killer whales— the Swiftsure Bank in the Juan de Fuca Strait between Vancouver Island and Washington state, and La Perouse Bank off Tofino, B.C. 

The DFO says it has consulted on the the critical habitat areas and it’s still planning what fishing restrictions, if any, may be applied next year. Ottawa says designating the area as a critical habitat would also enable it to restrict other activities like whale watching and marine traffic, which some argue disturbs the orcas.

Chamberland was at the Sport Fishing Institute of British Columbia’s annual conference in Vancouver on Thursday, where he says more potential closures were a hot topic.

According to the institute, sport fishing contributes more than $1 billion to the provincial economy each year. 

“I am superbly worried,” he said. “West Coast communities fully depend on the sport fishing industry.”

Effectiveness in question

Andrew Trites, director of the University of British Columbia’s Marine Mammal Research Unit, was also at the conference.

Trites says there isn’t enough evidence to support the view that banning sport fishing has any impact on the southern resident killer whales. 

“I think the intended goal is is all well and good. But I am a bit concerned that management actions are be being put into place without any attempts to determine whether or not they’re effective,” he said. 

Trites doesn’t deny that the southern resident orcas have a food problem — evidence shows that they are thinner than their cousins, the northern resident killer whales.

But he says the more than 600,000 large chinook salmon estimated in the areas where the southern resident orcas roam should be more than enough to feed them.

“The thing is that we tend to look at the food problem as being in our backyard,” he said. 

When they’re not swimming along southern Vancouver Island, Trite says, southern resident killer whales spend the rest of the year along the coast of Oregon and California, where salmon-bearing rivers have been destroyed, dammed or drained.

He says those rivers no longer have enough salmon to feed the killer whales.

There is still some debate about whether marine traffic is blocking the orcas’ access to salmon, Trite says. But the DFO’s restrictions last year didn’t restrict marine traffic — just fishing. 

Worldwide attention

The plight of the whales attracted worldwide attention last summer, after the female orca known as J35 spent 17 days carrying her dead calf as she travelled through West Coast waters.

Only 74 of them remain, and there have not been any documented successful births since 2015. The southern residents are genetically and behaviourally distinct from other killer whales in B.C., and feed primarily on salmon.

Several factors have been attributed to the orcas’ slow demise, including lack of salmon, marine noise and inbreeding.

Source: cbc.ca

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Endangered B.C. orcas contend with machine-gun fire and smoke bombs

November 23, 2018

The 74 critically endangered southern resident killer whales frequenting British Columbian waters are slowly starving to death. The last thing they need is to inadvertently swim into the line of fire of a naval machine-gun exercise, say whale researchers.

But that’s exactly what happens from time to time in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, according to longtime whale researcher Ken Balcomb.

An endangered southern resident killer whale breaches in the Haro Straight. Conservationists say southern resident orcas can’t lose many more whales before there are not enough of them to stop their slide toward extinction.

To read the rest of the story visit The Star.com

100 Orcas and Whales Are Trapped in ‘Whale Jails’

November 22, 2018

An estimated 11 orcas and up to 90 belugas are currently being held in what’s being dubbed as a ‘whale jail.‘ According to media reports, prosecutors are now investigating a site near the city of Nakhodka, where dozens of orcas and belugas have been confined to small enclosures to determine whether they’re being kept illegally.

According to the Telegraph, which cited local media, it’s the largest number of whales to ever be held in small temporary enclosure, while some of them have been there since July.

Now, an international group of marine scientists are calling on Russia to stop capturing orcas from the wild. Even though permits for capture are only issued for scientific or educational reasons in Russia, activists have raised concerns they’re really being captured for commercial purposes and being sold to marine parks in China for entertainment. Unfortunately, the industry in China is growing, which has increased the demand for them. Capturing orcas is big business – Orcas can reportedly be sold for up to $6 million, while belugas are worth thousands.

Sadly, according to the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), 13 orca captures will be allowed this year, while the number doesn’t include any who are injured or killed during the process.

In response, 25 marine mammal biologists from around the world are urging the Russian Federal Service for Overseeing Natural Resources to stop captures of wild orcas.

They argue that not only are these captures highly stressful for individuals involved, but they also damage complex social structures and are putting the future survival of orca populations at risk. To see how damaging removing even just a few individuals can be, we just need to look at the Southern Resident Killer Whales who have yet to recover from captures that took place decades ago off the coast of Washington.

“These whales are being captured before Russian authorities complete an environmental assessment to determine whether such actions are sustainable,” said Dr. Naomi Rose, a marine mammal scientist for AWI. “Aside from poor management practice, captures are without a doubt traumatic and harmful to the whales taken and the family members they leave behind. The science is in on this, but Russian authorities are ignoring it.”

We can never undo the injustices that captive orcas and other cetaceans have been subjected to, but we can certainly create a future where we respect them and protect them in their rightful place in the wild. Considering what we’ve learned about cetaceans, it’s heartbreaking to think about the impact this industry has had on them. Putting them in captivity can destroy family bonds, cause premature death or injuries and inflict psychological harm – all for nothing more than our curiosity and amusement.

Unfortunately, this trade won’t stop until public interest is gone and it’s no longer profitable, which makes avoiding facilities that hold them captive critical.

Source: care2.com

Sipadan orca sighting unusual, but not unheard-of occurrence

January 21, 2017

The sighting of a pod of orcas by a group of divers in Sipadan waters last Sunday was not a first, as the marine mammals have been spotted in Sabah waters several times before.

This was shared by other divers following New Straits Times’ online report on the recent encounter near the world-renowned island.

Downbelow Marine and Wildlife Adventures managing director Richard Swann told the NST that there had been several sightings in the past, wherein orcas were seen passing through waters off Sipadan and Layang-Layang islands.

“Although I have yet to encounter them, I know others who have. They spotted a pod of orcas in Sipadan waters a few years back.

“The killer whales were seen chasing dolphins, but I am not sure if (the divers) were able to document the event, because the boat… could not catch up (with the mammals),” Swann said.

He added that another group of divers spotted killer whales near Layang-Layang in March last year.

Swann, who is a PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) Platinum course director, has been diving in Sabah for over 10 years.

During his dives in the state, he has encountered whale sharks and dolphins.

“I (saw) melon-headed whales (often referred to as ‘blackfish’ or ‘false killer whales’) in 2005 in Sipadan waters, but I missed the killer whales.

“At that time, there could have been hundreds of dolphins… probably more than a thousand (different) species. As for melon-headed whales, it is hard to say (how many of them there were), as they seemed to be very cautious and kept their distance.

“Every now and again, there is a huge number of dolphins passing through and predators naturally follow, on occasion.

“It can be breath-taking, (it’s) like some kind of marine convention, and they socialise when they come together, unless being hunted – then they are just on full speed,” said Swann.

Last Sunday, 32-year-old diver Faridzul Adzli Mad Adim encountered about eight orcas and took videos of them swimming and jumping out of the water.

His videos, which he posted on his Facebook page, have garnered more than 8,000 views.

Meanwhile, Sabah Fisheries Director Ahemad Sade said presence of killer whale in Sabah waters was not common but noted they have been spotted in waters off Semporna.

“As for now we can tentatively identify it as killer whale by looking at the white spot under the dorsal fin (based on Faridzul’s video).

“The orcas could have used our waters as part of their migratory route since waters off Sipadan is quiet deep.

“The area is also a migratory route for yellow fin and big eye tuna,” he said.

While it carries the name ‘whale’, this marine mammal belongs to the dolphin family and is its largest member.

Although killer whales tend to inhabit cold oceans, they can be found in all of the world’s major seas, from the Arctic and Antarctica, to various tropical regions located in and around the equator.

They usually prey on squid, octopus, seal, sea lion, sea otter, ray, dolphin, shark, baleen whale and of course, bony fishes. Occasionally, turtles and seabirds, including penguins, are added to their diet.

Source: New Straits Times

Killer whale at center of ‘Blackfish’ dies

January 6, 2017

Tilikum, the killer whale involved in the deaths of three people, including SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010, has died, SeaWorld reported Friday.Tilikum was at the center of the 2013 CNN documentary “Blackfish.””Tilikum passed away early this morning, January 6, surrounded by the trainers, care staff and veterinarians that provided him around-the-clock world-class care,” SeaWorld said on its website.SeaWorld reported in March that the orca — estimated then to be 35 — may be dying. It also announced then that it would no longer house the whales at its water parks.”Tilikum had, and will continue to have, a special place in the hearts of the SeaWorld family, as well as the millions of people all over the world that he inspired,” SeaWorld president and CEO Joel Manby in a statement. “My heart goes out to our team who cared for him like family.”The company has come under fire for its treatment of killer whales since the 2013 CNN documentary.

A post on the Blackfish Twitter account said, “Heartbreaking news. SeaWorld has announced the passing of Tilikum #RIPTilikum #Blackfish”The film gave a disturbing portrayal of the captivity of the killer whales in SeaWorld. The Orlando-based water park operator responded to the film by calling it false, misleading and “emotionally manipulative” propaganda.In a Twitter post on Friday, the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals shared a photo of the whale with the message: “R.I.P. Tilikum Dead after three decades of misery.”

In March, when SeaWorld announced that the killer whales currently in its care will be the last generation of the mammals enclosed at the water parks, the company said, “Why the big news? SeaWorld has been listening and we’re changing. Society is changing and we’re changing with it.”Other whales remain at the water park.”The orcas will continue to live at SeaWorld for many years to come, inspiring guests in new and natural ways,” the company said on its website at the time “They will continue to receive the highest-quality care based on the latest advances in marine veterinary medicine, science and zoological best practices.”PETA said SeaWorld had not gone far enough.

Tilikum became a part of SeaWorld 25 years ago, according to the company. The whale was near the high end of the average life expectancy for male killer whales according to an independent scientific review.

“While the official cause of death will not be determined until the necropsy is completed, the SeaWorld veterinarians were treating a persistent and complicated bacterial lung infection,” SeaWorld said Friday.”The suspected bacteria is part of a group of bacteria that is found in water and soil both in wild habitats and zoological settings.”Treatment included “combinations of anti-inflammatories, anti-bacterials, anti-nausea medications, hydration therapy and aerosolized antimicrobial therapy,” according to SeaWorld.”Tilikum’s life will always be inextricably connected with the loss of our dear friend and colleague, Dawn Brancheau,” the SeaWorld statement added.Brancheau, 40, died in 2010 from “multiple traumatic injuries and drowning” after the 12,000-pound killer whale grabbed her ponytail and pulled her underwater in front of shocked onlookers at Shamu Stadium, the Orange County Sheriff’s office reported then.Rescuers were not immediately able to reach Brancheau because of the “whale’s aggressive nature,” the sheriff’s office said at the time.She was recovered by SeaWorld staff members after Tilikum was coaxed into a smaller pool and lifted out of the water by a large platform on the bottom of the smaller tank, authorities said.Tilikum had been linked to two other deaths. He and two other whales were involved in the drowning of a trainer at a Victoria, British Columbia, marine park in 1991. The trainer fell into the whale tank at the Sea Land Marine Park Victoria and was dragged underwater as park visitors watched.In 1999, Tilikum was also blamed for the death of a 27-year-old man whose body was found floating in a tank at SeaWorld, the apparent victim of a whale’s “horseplay,” authorities said then. The sheriff’s office said the man apparently hid in the park until after it closed, then climbed into the tank.Tilikum was captured off the coast of Iceland and sired 21 calves in captivity. SeaWorld now has 22 orcas at its three facilities in Orlando, Florida; San Antonio, Texas; and San Diego, California.Many people expressed sadness over the whale’s passing on social media Friday, while others labeled Tilikum “a murderer.”

Source: CNN.com

Orca from Salish Sea found dead in Canada

December 28, 2016

On Wednesday, Dec. 21, an orca, who partially lived in the Salish Sea, was found deceased off the coast of British Columbia, Canada.

The next day, the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans reported the whale suffered blunt force trauma to the head, which could mean he was hit and killed by a vessel . . . 

. . . 

The male, who was about 19 years old, was part of one of three sects that makes up the southern resident killer whale population, known as the J-pod, which mostly swims off the coast of Washington, Oregon and British Columbia, Canada. Islanders would probably recognize J-34, or DoubleStuf, as The Whale Museum nicknamed, thanks to his long, narrow dorsal fin.

“He was a really well known whale,” said Deborah Giles, research director at the Center for Whale Research.

J-34 was seen in the Salish Sea in early December, but welfare is hard to assess from afar, said Atkinson.

The Center for Whale Research in Friday Harbor confirms that there are 25 remaining members of the J-pod, and three others were lost in 2016 . . . 

To read the full article visit the San Juan Journal.com

SeaWorld sees the tank as half full

December 22, 2016

Theme park goes ahead with revamp plans amid revenue drawbacks

SeaWorld is moving forward with plans to pump millions in new attractions at its San Diego theme park.

On December 19, the City of San Diego provided notice that SeaWorld has applied for the necessary permits for a large renovation project that includes removing structures to make room for a new roller coaster, construction of new buildings, a new orca exhibit, and food courts.

The project, classified as a Process Five, will require San Diego’s planning commission to review the project as well as final city-council approval before construction begins.

The improvements are a part of SeaWorld’s larger efforts to rebrand their theme parks after negative publicity caused by the backlash of the *Blackfish* documentary, which questioned the park’s orca exhibits, its treatment of killer whales, and the deaths of orca trainers.

The resulting public relations nightmare from the documentary sent SeaWorld’s stock into decline. Revenues for 2016 decreased by a reported $15 million from the previous year. SeaWorld stocks were also down by a reported 34 percent.

Despite the financial straits, in September of this year, the theme park announced its plans to change its image and build new attractions.

“We are extremely excited with the scope and depth of the new attractions and events coming to our SeaWorld and Busch Gardens parks in 2017,” said Joel Manby, SeaWorld Entertainment’s president and chief executive officer in a statement following the announcement.

“In developing new experiences we want guests to have fun, but also be inspired, and our parks are uniquely suited to create meaningful and fun vacations.”

The application to the city is the first step in the permitting process. Planning commissioners and city councilmembers will vote on the project in the coming months.

Source: SanDiego Reader.com

Oil Tankers Could Doom Puget Sound’s Orcas

December 22, 2016

Canada’s recent approval for the construction of a pipeline in British Columbia could signal big changes for killer whales in the Puget Sound.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gave the green light to a pipeline proposed by energy giant Kinder Morgan to transport oil from the sands fields of Alberta to Burnaby, British Columbia, at a rate of 890,000 barrels a day. The problem for the orcas is that the land-based pipeline, nicknamed the Trans Mountain Expansion Project, is expected to bring a sevenfold spike in oil tanker traffic through the waters of the Salish Sea.

This carries heavy implications for local marine life, especially the orca population living in Puget Sound and along the coasts of southern British Columbia and Washington state.

Both the United States and Canada consider the orcas there to be endangered, and their declining population was causing experts to worry even before the pipeline proposal.

“Death by a thousand cuts, and this is a very deep cut,” says Deborah Giles, research director for the Center for Whale Research.

Giles explains that if the present rate of decline continues — even without the Trans Mountain Pipeline — the southern resident killer whales could die off before the end of this century.

Killer whales, sometimes called the “wolves of the sea,” are iconic animals in the Northwest. Native American and First Nation peoples on both sides of the border revere orcas, often depicting them in their artwork and literature. Some tribes believe the killer whale embodies the souls of deceased chiefs, others believe it rules the undersea world.

Some of the worry around the pipeline is the risk of an accident, namely an oil spill or a mishap with a vessel traveling near the coast. But even without an accident, there is an inherent risk for the orcas.

Like all cetaceans, the killer whales depend heavily on sound for communication, navigation and feeding. They use clicks, whistles and pulsed calls to figure out their relative location, discriminate prey from objects and interact with others using a dialect unique to each pod. The ability for killers whale’s to hunt, rest and socialize is hampered by boats, ferries and other vessels traveling through the water, Giles explains. The increased oil tanker traffic from the Kinder Morgan pipeline will simply compound that effect.

“They’re spending more energy to find less food and we’re adding the equivalent of a rock concert,” Giles says. “These whales will not survive.”

Karen Mahon of Stand Earth, a leader in the Canadian opposition to the pipeline, told reporters in a conference call that experts generally agree: The southern resident killer whales are doomed if the tanker traffic goes up.

Kinder Morgan says it is collaborating with “coastal communities, aboriginal groups and other stakeholders” to better understand the importance of protecting marine mammals like the killer whales. The company will be required by Canada’s National Energy Board to create a marine mammal protection program, to develop a summary of possible effects on aquatic life, and ways to mitigate those effects.

Three main resident killer whale populations live in the northeast Pacific Ocean. The Alaskan resident population is the biggest of the three, with more than 500 killer whales. The northern resident group has approximately 250 orcas and frequents the inland waters of Vancouver Island and Johnstone Strait at the north edge of the island. The southern resident group is the smallest.

The southern resident killer whale population consists of three pods. The J pod has 26 individuals, K pod has 19 and L has 35, totaling approximately 80 orca whales that spend most of the year foraging near the coasts of Washington and southern British Columbia. In comparison the northern resident group is doing much better; the adults seem much healthier and better fed, and their newborns are born in regular intervals and survive more often. This contrast, Giles says, shows that it’s harder for the whales to survive points near Washington and southern BC.

A 2014 report by NOAA found, among other things, that members of the southern residents killer whale population hunt less and travel more when vessels are present. They also suffer the most chemical contamination documented among marine mammals around the world, and they favor Chinook salmon as their main source of food — a species also in decline.

After the recent death of a 24-year-old orca mother, known as J28, and her 1-year-old baby calf, the southern resident population recently fell to the current 80, a low point that hadn’t been reached in decades.

“We’re losing them because they’re starving,” Giles said. “We know what to do to save these animals, we need to get more fish in the water for them to find, but so far that hasn’t been a priority of the [U.S.] federal government.”

Kinder Morgan admits that the project will increase traffic in coastal waters to about 350 tankers per year. According to the company, this accounts for roughly 6.6 percent of all large commercials vessels trading in the region.

“Impacts on the region’s whale population are occurring regardless of our Project and this is an issue that must be addressed by all marine users,” Kinder Morgan said in a statement in response to inquiries from Crosscut. “The solution lies in a group effort and Trans Mountain is taking a leadership role despite our relatively small contribution to the issue.”

Mahon, the director of Stand Earth, says the amount of noise from the tankers, which are bigger than most other vessels travelling through inland waters, will devastate the killer whales. “They are dependent on echolocation for fishing, mating, communicating,” she says. “And the tankers provide such a high level of noise disruption.”

Concern about the possibility of an oil spill are heightened, environmentalists say, because the vessels will be carrying bitumen, a type of oil that sinks in water. They say the presence of chemical diluents in the oil make a bitumen spill particularly harmful, pointing out that Trudeau’s decision to approve Trans Mountain came just six weeks after authorities struggled with the response to a spill from a tug boat that sunk off the coast of northern British Columbia.

Kinder Morgan’s response: “We understand the concerns raised about tanker traffic, spill prevention and emergency response, and that’s why we’ve carefully developed measures to protect communities and our ecosystems.” The same statement went on to explain that, as a result of the project, an investment of more than $150 million will be made in Western Canada Marine Response Corporation that will “further improve safety for the entire marine shipping industry.”

The investment will fund five new “response bases,” three of which will operate 24/7, along with new employees and vessels stationed at strategic locations along British Columbia’s southern shipping lane.

Rebecca Ponzio from Stand Up to Oil, a Washington-based coalition of environmental advocacy groups that oppose new oil terminals in the Northwest, says that lawmakers here are concerned. “Legislators are thinking about how to hold the oil industry accountable for the risks that they’re industry poses,” she said.

When he approved the pipeline, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the completion of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project is “in the best interest of all Canadians.” Proponents argue it would establish a bridge for oil companies to enter the Asian market. The project is slated to enhance local markets as well.

According to National Resources Canada, the construction of the pipeline will generate 15,000 temporary jobs and “unlock the true value of Canada’s natural resources.” Officials say the projected greenhouse gas emissions fit within the country’s climate plan for 2030.

According to Mahon, even in “the best case scenario,” in which case no oil is spilled, the added noise would still drive the southern resident killer whales into extinction within the next 50 to 100 years. For her, there is only one solution: block the pipeline and shipping traffic through legal action in Canada.

Source: opb.org

Captive Orcas Are All the Rage In China

December 21, 2016

By: Ian Carey

When it comes to animals in captivity, society is undergoing an ethical shift. Animals used for entertainment was previously accepted by the public for centuries dating back to ancient Roman times. Yet, in recent years, we’ve crossed something of a threshold. Public backlash has caused SeaWorld and the Ringling Bros. Circus to back away from centuries-old practices that were their main revenue-generators.

It is a welcome development for the many who empathize with animals. Although, it certainly would be nice if other forms of animal cruelty were to receive similar public backlash. Still, certain acts of cruelty towards animals are no longer accepted — and that’s something to feel good about.

China’s growing market for captive marine life

It would be incorrect to assume this shift in public ethics has taken place worldwide, however.

While SeaWorld may be ending the orca shows, you can still find captive cetaceans at any of the 39 marine parks currently operating in China. Another 14 parks are currently under construction in the country. China is the fastest-growing market for captive dolphins, whales and other cetaceans.

Why isn’t China onboard with the ethical shift?

While many marine parks in the U.S. are closing down, or changing their business models, they are being built at a record pace in China. The ethical shift that led to the downfall of SeaWorld just hasn’t taken place there yet — or at the very least, it’s moving along slower.

One theory as to why this might be is that the backlash against SeaWorld was spurned on by the documentary “Blackfish,” which originally aired on CNN in the United States. The film was about as successful as any documentary can be in regards to furthering a cause. It’s success created such a large swell of public awareness regarding the suffering of captive animals that the public at-large rejected the practice. It is doubtful the makers of the film even dreamed a bigger accomplishment was possible.

Had a similar documentary been made regarding the Chimelong Ocean Kingdom (and the nine orcas captive there), perhaps marine parks would be closing down in China as well. Releasing such a film in China would also present a unique set of circumstances for the filmmakers. There are definitely those working on the cause in China. However, they appear to be having a harder time with it.

How much does it cost to open a marine park in China?

According to The Namibian, a local newspaper in the African country of Namibia, the initial investment to start a marine park isn’t as much as you’d think. Recently the Welwitschia Aquatic and Wildlife Scientific Research company put forth a proposal to the Namibian Fisheries Ministry. They want to sell marine wildlife to the company, which will eventually get sent to China. While the company is registered in Namibia, it is owned and operated by Chinese business proprietors.

The proposal the company sent to the Namibian Fisheries Ministry contained the following:

  • 10 orcas (i.e., killer whales, like Tilikum from Blackfish)
  • 500 to 1,000 Cape fur seals
  • 50 to 100 Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins
  • 50 to 100 common bottlenose dolphins
  • 300 to 500 African penguins
  • And whatever sharks they can get their hands on

That sounds like quite the well-stocked marine park! The Chinese-owned company is proposing a total of 300 million Nigerian dollars for the “order.” That translates to approximately $95,000. Not that there is any price that should be placed on suffering, but you’d hope it would at least be higher than that!

Response from the Namibian scientific community

Chairperson of the Namibia Environment and Wildlife Society, Frauke Kreitz, had this to say regarding the proposal: “For ethical and conservation reasons, there has been a move away from acquiring wild-captured animals to obtaining captive-bred animals in zoos and aquaria.”

She then continued to echo much of what the rest of the world has been stating regarding these practices.“Capturing wild animals is highly stressful and is invariably accompanied by a high mortality rate during capture,” said Kreitz.

The proposal notes that the market for captive marine life in China is “enormous,” but does not mention putting the animals on display. Instead, they list “breeding purposes” and to “help Namibia improve its overview of the marine environment” as the main reasons for the project. The company also stated that removing the marine life would have a positive impact on the country’s declining fish stocks.

Namibia’s scientific community has rejected the idea that the project contains any scientific benefit whatsoever. “The removal of the proposed numbers of the listed species will not improve Namibia’s fish stocks. Instead, the already tenuous status of threatened and uncommon species is likely to deteriorate,” was the Namibian Environment and Wildlife Society’s response to the proposal. It doesn’t appear the company has convinced anyone their project is based on scientific intentions.

How you can help

There are people both inside and outside China that are working to improve the situation, but they could use some help.

The China Cetacean Alliance is an alliance of international animal welfare organizations that are concerned about the growing rates of captive marine life in China. At the moment, their objective is to raise public awareness of the suffering caused by such projects. The hope is that Chinese customers will turn away from the marine parks, just as other customers turned away from SeaWorld. There are several ways humans can get involved, including:

You can also raise awareness by sharing or tweeting this article!

Source: thealternativedaily.com