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Marine Life & Conservation

India Declares Dolphins “Non-Human Persons”; Dolphin Shows Banned

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Amazing, overlooked news from several months ago out of India:

India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests has decided to forbid the keeping of captive dolphins for public entertainment anywhere in the country.

In a policy statement released Friday, the ministry advised state governments to reject any proposal to establish a dolphinarium “by any person / persons, organizations, government agencies, private or public enterprises that involves import, capture of cetacean species to establish for commercial entertainment, private or public exhibition and interaction purposes whatsoever.”

Why?

DolphinCayusa“Whereas cetaceans in general are highly intelligent and sensitive, and various scientists who have researched dolphin behaviour have suggested that they exhibit unusually high intelligence compared to other animals means that dolphins should be seen as ‘non-human persons’, and as such should have their own specific rights and is morally unacceptable to keep them captive for entertainment purpose,” the ministry said.

I was surprised to read about this the other night, since it happened back in May and somehow escaped worldwide attention and the 24 hour media hoopla. The effort to re-categorize Cetaceans (dolphins, whales, porpoises) as non-human persons has been gathering steam since a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2011 where a group of philosophers, conservationists, and animal behaviourists attempted to gather wide support for a Declaration of Rights for Cetaceans from the scientific community.

The Declaration:

1. Every individual cetacean has the right to life.

2. No cetacean should be held in captivity or servitude; be subject to cruel treatment; or be removed from their natural environment.

3. All cetaceans have the right to freedom of movement and residence within their natural environment.

4. No cetacean is the property of any State, corporation, human group or individual.

5. Cetaceans have the right to the protection of their natural environment.

6. Cetaceans have the right not to be subject to the disruption of their cultures.

7. The rights, freedoms and norms set forth in this Declaration should be protected under international and domestic law.

And what does it mean to say an animal has “rights”?

Unlike positive rights, such as the ‘right’ to education or health care, the animal right is, at bottom, a right to be left alone. It does not call for government to tax us in order to provide animals with food, shelter, and veterinary care. It only requires us to stop killing them and making them suffer.

Seems reasonable enough. Considering dolphin intelligence has long been established, this declaration doesn’t seem to be a particularly radical move. They exhibit self-awareness, use tools, cooperate to solve tasks, and very recently it was found that they possibly communicate to each other using individual names. The major real world implications of declaring them non-human persons would be the closing of dolphin and orca shows at marine parks, setting them free from aquariums and zoos, and a prohibition against kills, such as the one documented in Academy Award winning movie The Cove.

Of course, the biggest implication is the whole idea of creating a new category of non-human persons. Do we stop at dolphins and whales? And, if not, where do we draw the line? Once we give rights to some animals how do we justify our continued exploitation of others?

 

By Jason Scott Hackman

Courtesy of www.dailykos.com

Marine Life & Conservation

Blue Marine Foundation launches new partnership with Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance

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Ocean charity makes initial grant of $90,000 to marine parks on six Dutch Caribbean islands. Award will fund projects including coral protection, and training youth marine rangers.

Ocean conservation charity Blue Marine Foundation has announced it is awarding $90,000 in funding to support marine conservation in the Dutch Caribbean. A range of projects run by protected area management organisations on six islands will each receive a grant of $15,000. The funding is the first step in a longer-term partnership to support the islands and help secure sustainable financing through the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) Trust fund.

To improve ocean governance, Blue Marine uses a combination of top-down intervention and bottom-up project delivery to help local communities at the front line of conservation. It will work together with the DCNA to help marine-park organisations protect the unique and threatened biodiversity of the Dutch Caribbean.

The new partnership is an important development in the successful management of marine conservation parks in the Dutch Caribbean. The UK-based charity has established a small-grants fund to provide rapid access to support for critical conservation projects run by marine parks.

The individual projects and their local partners are:

Unique ecosystems on the islands are vulnerable to threats such as feral livestock causing sedimentation on reefs, and invasive species, including lionfish and coral diseases. They are also at risk from overfishing, climate change, coastal development, erosion and the build-up of harmful algae caused by waste water.

The islands of the Dutch Caribbean are also home to important “blue carbon” habitats – ocean ecosystems such as seagrasses, mangroves and other marine plants that suck up and lock away carbon from the earth’s atmosphere. Seagrass is so efficient at this it can capture and store carbon dioxide up to 35 times faster than tropical rainforests.  The management and protection of these blue carbon habitats is vital in the fight against climate change.

Current marine conservation measures in the islands include a 25,390 square km mammal and shark sanctuary- Yarari sanctuary- across the Exclusive Economic Zone of Bonaire, Saba and St Eustatius. All six islands have inshore Marine Protected Areas ranging in size from 10 to 60 sq km.

Blue Marine’s Senior Project Manager Jude Brown commented: “Having recently visited two of the islands, I witnessed first-hand how special this region is. Diving the waters off Saba I saw huge Tarpon swimming amongst shoals of blue tang, and hawksbill turtles feeding on the seagrass beds. I also witnessed the challenges these islands are facing from coral disease to issues with coastal development. It is an exciting opportunity to work in the Dutch Caribbean, bringing expertise and funding from Blue Marine to join with the wealth of knowledge already on the islands, to work together to protect the important marine life arounds these islands.”

Tadzio Bervoets, Director of the DNCA commented: “The Dutch Caribbean consists of the Windward Islands of St. Maarten, Saba, and St. Eustatius and the Leeward Islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao. The nature of the Dutch Caribbean contains the richest biodiversity in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The diverse ecosystems are a magnet for tourism and at the same time the most important source of income for residents of the Dutch Caribbean. Nature on the islands is unique and important but it is also fragile. The coming week we will be in The Netherlands to present a Climate Action Plan for the Dutch Caribbean to emphasize the urgent need for a climate smart future for our islands.”


Photo: Coral reefs in the Dutch Caribbean- Photo credit: Naturepics: Y.+T. Kühnast- all rights reserved

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Marine Life & Conservation

CCMI announces launch of two key projects, supported by RESEMBID

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Building Resilient Reefs

Project title: Increasing Coral Reef Resilience with Assisted Evolution via Selective Restoration

Via this recently awarded RESEMBID grant, funded by the European Union, CCMI aims to rebuild coral reef ecosystem resilience through cutting-edge restoration techniques. The project will develop assisted evolution methods via selective restoration with stress (heat and disease) tolerant corals, to promote and sustain biodiversity of these threatened ecosystems.

This project will build on CCMI’s past research, incorporating our understanding of coral restoration disease resistance and outplanting methodology, while conducting state of the art experimentation to assess thermal tolerance, all of which will be used to increase the resilience of coral reefs through advanced restoration practices. Visiting collaborator Dr. John Bruno (Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), will be joining the team in the field in April 2022 and will also be present for the press conference. Outcomes from the work will include improved restoration strategies that will be shared regionally – seeking to ultimately increase coral resilience throughout the Caribbean. A short project overview will be given, including the opportunity for Q&As. The press conference will then be followed by a Reef Lecture by Dr John Bruno on the wider threats to global coral reef health.

https://reefresearch.org/what-we-do/research/restoration/


Adapting to COVID-19

Project Title: Urgent technical assistance to support CCMI’s capacity to be a regional leader in protecting marine biodiversity and improving resilience.

This project is supported by a RESEMBID grant, funded by the European Union, which will enable CCMI to manage the impacts of COVID-19 by improving health and safety features of the facilities infrastructure and adapting emergency management processes. The grant will support enhanced operational resilience, thereby supporting CCMI’s continued work on improving and protecting marine biodiversity in the Cayman Islands and wider Overseas Territories.

https://reefresearch.org/who-we-are/field-station/adapting-to-covid-19/

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