Endangered whale used in Japan for dog treats

MEAT from endangered whales caught by Icelandic hunters is being sold in Japan as luxury dog treats, environmental campaigners said yesterday. Shanghai Daily reports

Michinoku Farm, a Tokyo-based company, is offering chews made from North Atlantic fin whales on its company website, with the meat described as a “low calorie, low fat, high protein” snack.

Japanese campaign group IKAN said selling products made from endangered species as treats for pampered pooches was the worst kind of conspicuous consumption.

“The most likely reason for shops to sell the whale meat dog treat is to target affluent Japanese who want to show off their wealth with something different,” it said.

Michinoku, which also sells pet goodies it says are made from Mongolian horses and from kangaroos, has three different sized packets of whale chews, with a 60 gram bag selling for 609 yen (US$5.97).

IKAN was one of four campaign groups that issued a joint statement on the treat.

“The product description identifies the meat as being fin whale of Icelandic origin,” the statement said. “Its use in pet food suggests that new markets are being explored.”

“As Iceland prepares to hunt over 180 fin whales in 2013 for this export market, NGOs question the environmental and economic logic of using meat from an endangered species for the manufacture of dog treats.”

The president of Michinoku Farm, Takuma Konno, said that the company was selling produce that was legal in Japan.

“Dogs are like family members for many people in Japan. We just wanted to sell a wide variety of food for dogs,” he said.

“(Campaigners) look at whales as important animals, but we consider dogs to be just as important,” he said.

Japan hunts whales under a loophole in an international moratorium, insisting it is carrying out research.

Sonar impact on dolphins and whales

New Navy estimates showing many more dolphins, whales and other marine mammals could be hurt by sonar off Hawaii and Southern California caused alarm among environmentalists on Friday. The Navy, for its part, emphasized those were worst-case estimates and that the numbers cover a much larger testing area than before.

More at http://usnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/05/11/11659008-navy-raises-sonar-impact-on-dolphins-whales-dramatically?lite

Asia Update : Good news for threatened dolphins

Lipotes vexillifer

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Good news from Arkive 

*** Learn From Nature Factsheet on dolphins 

 

Three new wildlife sanctuaries have been declared by the Government of Bangladesh, in the hope that they will help to prevent the extinction of the threatened Irrawaddy and Ganges river dolphins.

Threatened dolphins

Freshwater dolphins are among the most threatened species of dolphin in the world, with the enigmatic Yangtze river dolphin, or baiji, now believed to be extinct. It is hoped that the three new sanctuaries, which are located in the world’s largest mangrove ecosystem, will help to prevent the last two remaining species of freshwater dolphin in Asia from suffering a similar fate.

The sanctuaries will cover a total area of almost 11 square kilometres, which includes 31 kilometres of channels. The size and location of the sanctuaries was determined using scientific findings from a study by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the Bangladesh Forest Department.

Ganges river dolphin imageGanges river dolphin

Declining numbers

While there are currently no estimates of the global population of the Irrawaddy and Ganges river dolphins, they are believed to be in decline and to have disappeared from major parts of their historic range. Entanglement in fishing gear and the depletion of their natural prey are thought to be contributing factors.

Director of WCS’s Asian Freshwater and Coastal Cetacean Program, Brian D. Smith, said, “Declaration of these Wildlife Sanctuaries is an essential first step in protecting Ganges River and Irrawaddy dolphins in Bangladesh. As biological indicators of ecosystem-level impacts, freshwater dolphins can inform adaptive human-wildlife management to cope with climate change, suggesting a broader potential for conservation and sustainable development.”

Baiji imageThe baiji is thought to be extinct

Dolphin hotspot

Bangladesh is believed to be a hotspot for marine mammals, and houses the world’s largest population of the Irrawaddy dolphin, with nearly 6,000 individuals being discovered in 2009. As well as protecting these fascinating creatures, it is hoped that the sanctuaries will also provide refuge for many other species, including the Asian short-clawed otter and the masked finfoot.

For the full story, read the WCS article: Bangladesh Helps Threatened Dolphins Stay Afloat.

View images and videos of dolphin species on ARKive.

Rebecca Moran, ARKive Species Text Author

Source : http://blog.arkive.org/2012/02/new-sanctuaries-to-help-threatened-dolphins/

Whales and dolphins are so intelligent they deserve same rights as humans, say experts

Whaling in the Faroe Islands. These are Atlant...

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From source: Two mammal-eating "transient...

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From The Independent

Marine biologists and philosophers have joined forces to support a controversial declaration of rights for whales and dolphins on the grounds that their astonishing intelligence and emotional empathy puts them on a par with humans.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? COMMENT BELOW or twitter.com/#!/LearnFromNature or twitter.com/#!/NAEE_UK

Research into the complex behaviour of cetaceans – whales, dolphins and porpoises – is revealing that these sea mammals are so highly evolved and complex in terms of their behaviour that they deserve special protection with a universal bill of rights, they said.

Dolphins and whales have complex vocal communications and are able to learn an astonishing variety of behaviours when they come into contact with humans, such as cooperative fishing with native fishermen. The proponents of the bill of rights argue the cetacean mind is so advanced and self-aware that whales and dolphins should be classified as “non-human persons” who deserve the right to life, liberty and wellbeing. “A person needs to be an individual,” said Tom White, a philosopher at the Hilton Centre for Business in Los Angeles. “If individuals count then the deliberate killing of individuals of this sort is ethically the equivalent of deliberately killing a human being.

“The captivity of beings of this sort particularly in conditions that would not allow for a decent life is ethically unacceptable, commercial whaling is ethically unacceptable. You can’t say its all about the size of the population. We’re saying the science has shown that individuality, consciousness, self-awareness is no longer a unique human property. That poses all kinds of challenges.”

The declaration of rights for cetaceans states that every individual dolphin, whale and porpoise has the right to life and liberty and that not only should they not be killed by hunting, but none should be kept in captivity or servitude or subject to cruel treatment. It states that no cetacean can be the property of any individual or government and calls for the legal protection of their natural environment and a ban on any activity that disrupts their “cultures”, which could include underwater military sonar that disturbs their acoustic communications.

“The similarities between cetaceans and humans are such that, like us, they have an individual sense of self. We can look internally and say that we have emotions, personality and sense of self. They do as well,” said Dr White. “What we see in cetaceans is that humans need individual freedom more than whales and dolphins. But dolphins need social life more. When I look at captive animals I don’t say, ‘gee, they’ve got no freedom’, I say, ‘they have no social life’.”

Lori Marino, of Emory University in Atlanta, said people can support the call for a bill of cetacean rights by not going to sea life parks that keep dolphins, porpoises or whales. “Once you shift from seeing a being as a property … to a person, an autonomous entity that has a right to life on his or her own terms, the whole framework shifts,” she said.

Marine intelligence: brains of the oceans

* In self-awareness experiments, dolphins identify their reflections in a mirror.

* Wild orcas in Patagonia supported a member of the social group with a damaged jaw by feeding it for more than a year.

* Tests on captive dolphins show they have the ability to indicate “I don’t know” when pressed to make a choice between two alternatives.

* A captive dolphin was found to have exploited a reward for picking up rubbish in its tank by hiding a sheet of paper and plucking off small segments when keepers with fish rewards were nearby.

Source : http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/nature/whales-and-dolphins-are-so-intelligent-they-deserve-same-rights-as-humans-say-experts-7237448.html

Shipping causes ‘chronic stress’ to whales

 

amy Whale, breaching, Stellwagen Bank National...

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Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society

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Unseen impacts of human activities are confirmed… The Guardian reports |  Comments below or at  https://twitter.com/#!/LearnFromNature

Link to my whales and noise pollution resource page

 

Shipping noise causes chronic stress to whalesscientists have shown for the first time, after using the halt in marine traffic after the 9/11 terrorist attacks to conduct a unique experiment.

 

The effect on whales of propeller noise, military sonar and explosions set off in the search for oil and gas is highly controversial. Environmental campaigners claim the noise interferes with the singing of whales, or even kills the animals, and are currently suing the US government over the navy’s use of sonar.

 

Aaevp-audacity noise levels

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The research, published on Wednesday, provides the first evidence of physical harm, according to Rosalind Rolland, a researcher at the New England Aquarium, in Boston, US.

 

“We showed whales occupying oceans with high levels of ship noise have a chronic stress response,” said Rolland, who led the study. “We knew whales changed the frequency of their calls to adapt to the ship noise, but this work shows it is not merely an annoyance – it is having a physical effect.”

 

She had not originally set out to study the effect of noise on the animals. The hormone data was part of a study of the whales’ health and reproduction but Rolland realised many years later it could be combined with data on noise levels from shipping to draw conclusions about how the whales are being affected.

 

Whales use sound as their primary sense, just as humans use sight, and their singing enables them to find food, mates and to navigate. They are believed to be able to communicate over hundreds of kilometres. But the frequencies they use largely overlap with the frequencies generated by human activities in the oceans, which have increased tenfold in volume since the 1960s, disrupting their ability to communicate.

 

A separate study published in January showed the singing of humpback whales was disrupted by sonar noise caused over 200km away while measuring fish stocks.

 

Rolland was at sea in the Bay of Fundy on 11 September 2001: “There was a dramatic reduction in ship traffic that day. It was like being on the primal ocean.” The noise levels from shipping fell by half, as transport was shut down in response the terror attacks. Rolland’s team also collected faecal balls from the whales, which float, and analysed the levels of stress hormones present. They found a “highly significant” decrease in stress hormones coincided with the drop in shipping noise.

 

“Instant responses to stress – like running away from a tiger – can be life-saving,” said Rolland. “But if it becomes chronic, it causes profound depression of the immune system, making them vulnerable to disease, and it depresses reproduction.”

 

The northern right whales Rolland studied are one of the most endangered whales, with 475 in the world and a population growing at just 1% a year. In contrast, the southern right whale numbers 8-10,000 and a growth rate of 7-8% a year, as they recover from the decimation of whaling. Rolland dubbed the northern right whale “the urban whale” in a book she co-authored, because its territory is close to the busy eastern seaboard of North America. She said damage caused by noise is very likely to be a factor in the population’s slow recovery, and may also affect other whales. Beaked whales, which Rolland is now studying, are particularly sensitive to sonar she said, and are frequently the species involved in mass beachings.

 

“The positive aspect to this particular issue is that it is a solvable problem,” Rolland said. The noise is largely down to engine inefficiencies, she said, which is possible to remedy and doing so would reduce fuel consumption in return for upfront investment. The International Maritime Organisation and the European Union are both investigating how to reduce marine noise. But with 50,000 large ships travelling the oceans on any given day and a ship lifespan of about three decades, changing the fleet will not occur overnight.

 

Danny Groves, at the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, said: “Not enough is being done to reduce noise in our oceans Very little is known about its long-term effects and more research is needed.

 

“Amazingly, there are currently no accepted international standards regarding noise pollution in our seas.”

 

Asked how the whale faecal balls were found, Rolland said: “We find the pellets opportunistically, but we do also use trained scent-detection dogs. They are phenomenal. They work off the bow and can detect the scent up to 1km away.”

 

Source : http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/feb/08/shipping-noises-chronic-stress-whales?intcmp=122

 

The animals v the People – the courts decide on what is ‘endangered’

The fate of the polar bear may be decided this week. Not on the shrinking ice floes of the Arctic, or even in parliaments around the world, but in the courtroom.

On Wednesday, lawyers met in a Washington court to argue whether the animal can be classified as “threatened” or “endangered”, determining the level of protection it is allowed.

The case is one of many around the world where the future of a species is being decided by judges. From whales in the Southern Ocean to badgers in Wales, the battle for protecting wildlife is increasingly being fought in court.

Experts say that a combination of improved animal protection laws worldwide and the increasing urgency of combating climate change is pushing up the number of such cases.

Mikael Karlsson, president of the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation http://www.naturskyddsforeningen.se/in-english/About-us/, which is bringing a case over the protection of grey wolves, said: “Around the world, environmental legislation has been strengthened over time, and now we’re seeing a backlash from other interests, which means more cases are coming to court.”

Noah Greenwald at the Center for Biological Diversity http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/ , which has brought a large number of such cases in the US, said: “The litigation over species management began in the early Nineties, and in the last 20 years this has come to fruition.”

In the past, lobbying governments to improve animal protection might have sufficed, but Mr Greenwald says this option is becoming increasingly ineffective.

“When you’re lobbying the government to protect wildlife, you’re often up against powerful economic interests, so litigation is a very powerful tool,” he said.

Heather Sohl, species policy officer for WWF, said: “There’s been a growth in environmental law, so people are taking increasing action. We have to conserve the biodiversity of the world because we rely on natural resources for our own survival. We depend on these ecosystems and need to keep them in place for future generations.”

Experts say that a combination of improved animal protection laws worldwide and the increasing urgency of combating climate change is pushing up the number of such cases.

Mikael Karlsson, president of the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation, which is bringing a case over the protection of grey wolves, said: “Around the world, environmental legislation has been strengthened over time, and now we’re seeing a backlash from other interests, which means more cases are coming to court.”

Noah Greenwald at the Center for Biological Diversity, which has brought a large number of such cases in the US, said: “The litigation over species management began in the early Nineties, and in the last 20 years this has come to fruition.”

In the past, lobbying governments to improve animal protection might have sufficed, but Mr Greenwald says this option is becoming increasingly ineffective.

“When you’re lobbying the government to protect wildlife, you’re often up against powerful economic interests, so litigation is a very powerful tool,” he said.

Heather Sohl, species policy officer for WWF, said: “There’s been a growth in environmental law, so people are taking increasing action. We have to conserve the biodiversity of the world because we rely on natural resources for our own survival. We depend on these ecosystems and need to keep them in place for future generations.”

Grey wolves

When the Swedish government proposed culling 20 wolves last month, ministers could hardly have foreseen that they might end up in the European Court of Justice. But the European Commission has mounted a legal challenge against Sweden on the grounds that the animals are an endangered species. The first hunt in 45 years went ahead in January last year, when the parliament decided numbers needed to be reduced.

Badgers

A mass cull to stop the spread of TB in cattle was prevented in Wales last summer after the Badgers Trust http://www.badger.org.uk/Content/Home.asp took the Welsh Assembly to court. The trust is gearing up for another legal battle as it waits for the English policy to be announced.

http://twitter.com/BadgerTrust

Seals

The Inuit say their way of life has been put under threat by a European Union law banning seal products, now used to make Omega 3 pills. They are taking their fight to court for a second time. Canada argues that such prohibition violates the EU’s trade obligations. In October, the European Court of Justice dismissed Inuit claims that it would have a negative impact on their livelihoods, but Canada has vowed to fight on.

Coral

Fears that coral reef ecosystems could collapse in the next 40 years because of rising carbon dioxide levels has led conservationists to file a court case to get them protected. The National Marine Fisheries Service is being threatened with court action as conservationists campaign to protect 82 corals in the Caribbean and the Pacific. Environmentalists say the service has failed to make a decision on whether or not to protect the reefs.

Turtles

Turtles and 26 other endangered animals are at the centre of legal action against BP over the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico last year. Environmentalists say the impact is still being felt. A lawsuit has been filed by several groups, all keen to ensure the company pays up.

Whales

Japan’s “scientific whaling” will be taken to an international court by Australia in June. The Japanese say their whaling is for scientific purposes and therefore legal, but environmental campaigners claim that the unused meat is sold for food; scientific research is merely a guise to make money. Opposing whaling in the Southern Ocean, Australia is taking its grievances to the International Court of Justice, recognising the country has a “significant disagreement” with Japan.

http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/nature/the-animals-vs-the-people-2219978.html