From Wildlife Extra:
USA aquaria speak out against capturing wild whales and dolphins
WDC applauds Aquaria’s statement opposing capture of whales and dolphins from the wild
November 2012. In response to the US Georgia Aquarium plan to import 18 wild-caught belugas from the Sea of Okhotsk in Russia, WDC, Whale and Dolphin Conservation, has commended the recent announcements by National Aquarium, Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, Maryland, and Sea Life, with centres worldwide, stating their strong opposition to collection of whales and dolphins from the wild for any purpose. Both statements (attached) were sent to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) in response to the proposed import into the US of 18 belugas that were captured from the wild in the Sea of Okhotsk in eastern Russia and represent a strong indictment against the continuing capture of whales and dolphins from the wild to supply public display facilities in the US and worldwide.
“National Aquarium’s strong statement against any further capture and importation of dolphins from the wild is a huge and courageous step forward towards both a symbolic and real commitment to progressive change for the public industry,” stated Courtney Vail, WDC campaigns and programs manager. “True conservation calls for protection of these animals and the preservation of their populations in the wild, not captures for captivity. In making this bold statement, National Aquarium has just stepped out as a leader by acknowledging what science and ethics has been telling us all along, and I hope that other enlightened aquariums will follow suit.”
These statements come just as the public comment period for Georgia Aquarium’s beluga permit request to NMFS has ended. Because of the controversy surrounding this import request, NMFS held both a public meeting on October 12th where all interested parties could share their concerns and extended its public comment period until October 29th. WDC presented testimony opposing the permit as well as a statement from the NGO community against the imports, signed by 65 international conservation and animal welfare organizations.
Importing animals captured directly from the wild represents a significant departure from how US facilities have been acquiring whales and dolphins for public display over the past several decades, and is contrary to innovative and progressive trends within the aquarium community. Dolphin populations in US public display facilities have, in recent years, been maintained through captive breeding, imports, and the retention of stranded animals considered unsuitable for release back into the wild.
“Just as Ocean Park Hong Kong‘s decision last year to listen to public outcry and not to import belugas captured from the wild in Russia, National Aquarium and Sea Life have taken a leadership role in acknowledging the public’s desire to see an end to captures from the wild,” stated Chris Butler-Stroud, WDC’s chief executive. “We are encouraged that instead of continuing to fuel the international trade in whales and dolphins, these organizations are putting their foot down and signaling their willingness to break this vicious cycle of supply and demand. I am hopeful that other aquaria will step forward and leave these outdated practices behind them.”
No captures in US waters since 1993
There have been no captures of wild dolphins in US waters since 1993, primarily because of public opposition and pressure. However, NMFS called for a voluntary moratorium in 1989 for the capture of bottlenose dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico and along the US Atlantic coast, due to a lack of information about dolphin populations. Over 2,300 bottlenose dolphins were captured for public display purposes between 1972 and 1993 in US waters, primarily from the Gulf of Mexico. The last attempt to import wild-captured cetaceans deliberately for US facilities also occurred in 1993 when the Indianapolis Zoo and Marine World Africa USA attempted to import false killer whales (pseudorcas) from Japan and failed when it became apparent that the animals had been captured in the infamous and cruel dolphin drive hunts.
WDC continues to call for an end to wild captures and imports for public display.
US wildlife officials are investigating a spate of killings and mutilations of dolphins along the Gulf Coast over the past year: here.
December 2012. Every year, between September and March, local fishermen drive pods of dolphins and whales into a small cove in south-east Japan. Many are killed for food, many are taken into captivity to be trained to perform in shows, and just a very few are released, usually those too old or young to be included in the above: here.
On 23 occasions over the past several years, wild dolphins were observed giving gifts to humans at the Tangalooma Island Resort in Australia. The gifts included eels, tuna, squid, an octopus and an assortment of many other types of different fin fish. While these gifts might not be your choice for a gift to find underneath your Christmas tree, some of the items that were offered to humans are highly valued food sources for cetaceans such as dolphins. A report describing this rare form of food sharing behavior in wild dolphins was published on December 4, 2012 in the journal Anthrozoös: A Multidisciplinary Journal of the Interactions of People & Animals: here.
Anonymous wades into Japan’s anti-whaling battle: here.