Tuesday, July 29, 2014

An Unnecessary Evil

What could be "necessary" about the particularly unique cruelty of keeping large, social, brilliant, ocean-spanning sea mammals -- whales and dolphins -- in tiny concrete prison-pools? This hideous practice started in the 1960s as a money-maker for aquariums -- which it still is, however aquariums may dress up the practice as "science." Some Vancouver Aquarium Board members excuse this evil as "necessary". There will always be people in the marine research community willing to torture whales in order to get, keep or invent jobs for researchers ... but that does not make the captive whale industry any less unconscionable.

If this support of evil disgusts you, write to the Vancouver Aquarium:

Island Tides, the newsletter of B.C.s gulf islands, quotes a study from NOAA in the U.S. which found that noise, pollution, and shortage of food (salmon) are keeping the population of Canada's west coast Southern Resident Killer Whales from growing beyond the current 80 individuals. What has the Vancouver Aquarium -- major player in killer whale captivity since the 1960s -- ever done to help with that? Nothing. So much for "research."

And the captivity evil, noise, starvation and pollutions are not the only things west coast orcas have to struggle with. A steep increase in tanker traffic is on the cards if the oil and pipeline industries get their way (against public opinion in B.C.), and everywhere whales are dealing with the noise not only of shipping but of deep sea oil and gas exploration. The latest area where a rich array of cetacean species are threatened by oil exploration is around the Canary Islands off Spain. Force Change has a petition we can sign against this at: http://forcechange.com/130227/protect-whales-from-oil-prospecting/

Is there anywhere on Earth where economic ambition aiming to serve a ballooning population of humans does not take precedence over the existence of all other life forms? No, which is why we are in the midst of Earth's 6th great extinction event, and this one caused by us.

On the level of the individual, the imprisonment of whales is a personal cruelty personally felt by the victims. August 8th is the anniversary of the capture of the orca Lolita from among the Southern BC resident whales; information sessions and letter-signing opportunities will be held in Victoria from noon to 2 pm, downtown at Government and View streets, and in Oak Bay at the corner of Oak Bay Avenue and Foul Bay Road.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Calgary Stampede runs true to form

The date of Calgary's first agriculture fair was 1886, and in 1888 the present Exhibition lands were purchased on the Elbow River. That mean the Stampede's 130th anniversary will be in 2016 or 2018, depending on how you calculate its inception.

Victoria B.C.'s Times Colonist writes on July 9the of the 2014 Stampede:

"Horse dies in Calgary Stampede ... a 12 year old horse belonging to the team of Reg Johnstone collapsed after completing a run ..."

There's at least one every year, plus the injured, and the calves and bulls with yanked necks and twisted joints ...   Wouldn't it be great if Calgary Stampede celebrated its 130th Anniversary by deleting animal events from its roster of entertainment and agricutural shows, joining the world of modern opinion on animal welfare? Attitudes have changed since 1886; Calgary as a City should modernize its most famous event.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Law, Justice, and Whales

We assume that Canada honours its commitments regarding the CITES agreements about defending and preserving animal species at risk. We are mistaken: sadly, the present government is committed to finding loopholes that further its trading agenda.

Whales killed by Iceland despite the moratorium existing since 1986, the meat from which were rejected at ports in Finland and France, were sent as meat to Japan via Vancouver, BC, Canada. See the justification below from functionaries at Environment Canada, and Animal Lit's reply:

Dear Mr. Beale,


Thank you for your email explaining the workings of "WAAPRIITA" and the Wild Animal and Plant Trade Regulations, which was very informative. You have said that Canada does not have to honour the CITES agreement protecting endangered species, to which Canada is a signatory, if corpses of the species in question are "in Customs control" during transhipment through Canada (i.e. in the case of the whale meat shipped from Iceland to Japan via Canada, after European signatories of the CITES agreement had refused to accept it in their ports).

Leaving the bureaucratic machinations aside, I would like to reiterate my contention that Canada should not be supporting the killing of endangered animals by facilitating the safe passage of their remains through Canada by their killers. We should be honouring the spirit of the CITES agreement, rather than using narrow legalisms and loopholes that weaken both it and our own moral standing in the world.

The fact that Japan and Iceland have "entered reservations" allowing them to circumvent CITES and to profit from whale hunting, does not justify Canada's failure to protect endangered animals, nor justify its role in abetting a cruel, regressive and globally-reviled trade in whale meat.

My question to the Minister and the Prime Minister was: what side is Canada on -- the side of conservation or the side of whale-killing? Trade policies seem to indicate that the answer is killing. Do you think the public support the government in this? I believe we're talking about the difference between law and justice, and that the Canadian public has an inconvenient habit of favouring the latter.