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Marine Life & Conservation

UK Public support flips against dolphin and killer whale marine park shows

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A survey of 2,050 people in the UK released this week reveals that watching dolphins and killer whales perform tricks in small tanks is no longer on the travel bucket list of the average British tourist. The poll was carried out by Censuswide on behalf of the leading ethical travel company, responsibletravel.com, and international wildlife charity, the Born Free Foundation.

Growing public awareness of the ethical issues and physical implications of keeping dolphins and whales in captivity is changing public opinion. A staggering 86% of people surveyed* said they would not wish to visit a marine park to see whales and dolphins as part of an overseas holiday.

Will Travers OBE, President of the Born Free Foundation, said:

“Are the days of the dolphinarium over? It seems clear that when presented with the information on which to make an informed decision, British travellers have had enough. It is time to bring the curtain down on the exploitation of whales and dolphins in captivity – just like the exploitation of wild animals in travelling circuses. There are no longer any captive dolphins in the UK and I hope that the result of this survey will hasten the day when there are no captive dolphins kept for public entertainment anywhere in the world. We have a responsibility to make that dream a reality.”

Respondents were asked the same question at the beginning of the survey and again at the end, after having read a short statement** setting out facts about wild and captive whales and dolphins.

When initially asked, a clear majority, 61% said they did not wish to visit an overseas marine park to see whales and dolphins. Of those who declared that they would visit, 64% changed their minds after reading the factual statement.

Ethical considerations appear to be the reason for the respondents’ decision – 75% of the initial non-supporters felt it was ‘wrong to keep whales and dolphins in small tanks’, whilst a further 19% said they ‘don’t support or attend any zoos’.

Justin Francis, Managing Director at responsibletravel.com said:

“As public awareness of whale and dolphin captivity issues continues to increase, thanks to films such as ‘Blackfish’ and important campaigns such as our ‘Say NO to orca circuses’ petition with the World Cetacean Alliance Working Group on Captivity, time is ticking faster than ever before for this industry.

“For too long the travel industry has buried its collective head in the sand on this issue. Just as there was a point when circuses’ time was up, the same is happening with orca circuses. It’s clear that the majority of holidaymakers are not interested in these shows for ethical reasons.

“The time has come for travel companies, and the representative body ABTA (Association of British Travel Agents), to face the facts and stop supporting this irresponsible form of tourism.”

Regional waves of support

• The Northern Irish were the most unanimous in their distaste of marine shows, with 97% not wishing to visit by the end of the survey.
• Londoners were the most likely to visit (22% would want to) by the survey’s close.
• Those in the South East were least interested in marine shows (68% did not want to visit) when initially asked.
• Those in the North West were most interested (45% wanted to visit) when initially asked.
• The Northern Irish were most likely to change their minds after reading the facts, and Londoners were the least easily swayed.

Petition

In April this year, responsibletravel.com and the World Cetacean Alliance launched a petition to encourage the travel industry to stop supporting killer whale and dolphin shows. The petition has already been signed by over 8,500 individuals, travel companies, charities, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and other businesses.

See www.responsibletravel.com/stop-orca-circus

*Survey was carried out by Censuswide on behalf of responsibletravel.com and the Born Free Foundation. A total of 2050 people responded online in the UK between 2nd May – 8th May 2014.

** Statement read by respondents before their final question:

Captive whales and dolphins are kept in marine parks and visited by tourists on holiday. They are highly intelligent, social animals. In the wild, they:

• live in family groups, called pods of up to 100 individuals;
• have considerably higher life expectancies than their counterparts in captivity;
• can swim the equivalent distance of London to Sheffield (260km) or more in one day;
• are capable of diving to depths greater than the height of Niagara Falls (60m) and hunting live fish using sophisticated techniques.

In captivity these animals are confined to tanks, they are fed dead fish and commonly develop problems such as abnormal repetitive behaviour and aggression. They are trained to perform tricks and stunts, often to loud music and a cheering crowd.

Marine Life & Conservation

Parineeti Chopra teams up with PADI to create Ocean Change

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PADI® is thrilled to announce an exceptional PADI AmbassaDiver™: Indian actress, singer and PADI Advanced Open Water Diver Parineeti Chopra.

“A PADI AmbassaDiver is someone who is passionate about using their force for good to encourage others to protect our blue planet,” says Kristin Valette Wirth, Chief Brand and Membership Officer. “We could not have found a more respected and authentic partner as Ms. Chopra, a long time ocean lover, to advance our shared mission of saving the ocean. She is unmatched as a shining example of how to protect what you love – and inspire others to do the same.”

Chopra, who has always loved the ocean, experienced the magic beneath the surface in 2013 when she took her first breath underwater in Bali. As soon as she surfaced from that dive, she was hooked – and protecting the ocean became very personal for her, receiving her PADI Open Water Diver certification later that year in Palau. Since then, she has inspired others around the world, from her family and friends to fans in India– to try scuba diving so they can join her in seeking adventure and saving the ocean.

“The first time I came up to the surface after diving, I was crying because it was such a life-changing experience,” says Ms. Chopra. “It is now something I can’t live without. I make sure I do a diving trip every three months despite my work schedule because it is my form of meditation. And it is the place I am immensely passionate about protecting.”

“We are all equal underwater and all speak the same language. Over the years I have seen the changes that have taken place beneath the surface. During my time as a brand ambassador for Tourism Australia, I witnessed the bleaching and damage that has occurred to the Great Barrier Reef.  I was so sad to see this and am now committed to being a diver with a purpose. I have also seen first-hand how marine reserves, like the ones in Sipadan, Malaysia and Palau, prove how valuable marine protected areas are. As a PADI Diver, I want to make sure that our entire blue planet gets the protection it deserves.” continues Ms. Chopra.

With over 67 million social media followers and having recently starred in the Netflix movie The Girl on the Train, Chopra joins an elite group of celebrity influencers determined to take personal action and create real change for healthier oceans. Spending nearly all her free time diving around the world, Chopra shares her love for the ocean with her fans, as diving is an important part of her life that allows her to return to nature and reset. She will work with PADI to encourage others to experience the beautiful world underwater as PADI Divers and join her in helping to achieve balance between humanity and the ocean.

“PADI created the AmbassaDiver programmeme to support extraordinary divers who dedicate their lives to illuminating the path that leads from curiosity, exploration, and discovery to understanding, stewardship and action. Ms. Chopra is playing a very important role in ocean conservation, lighting the way for others to become divers themselves and mobilising communities worldwide to seek adventure and save the ocean with her,” continues Valette Wirth.

Ms. Chopra has big plans for 2022 – including becoming a real-life PADI Mermaid and taking part in citizen science projects during her dive trips around the world. Follow Chopra’s dive adventures, projects and hands-on conservation efforts with PADI on her Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

To learn more about Chopra and the rest of the PADI AmbassaDiver team visit www.padi.com/ambassadivers.

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Marine Life & Conservation

Ghost Fishing UK land the prize catch at the Fishing News Awards

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The charity Ghost Fishing UK was stunned to win the Sustainability Award.

The winners were selected by a panel of industry judges and the award recognises innovation and achievement in improving sustainability and environmental responsibility within the UK or Irish fishing industries in 2021.

Nominees must have demonstrated a unique and innovative response to an environmental sustainability issue within the UK or Irish industry, demonstrating that the project has gone above and beyond standard practice, and provided evidence of its impact. The judges look particularly for projects that have influenced a significant change in behaviour and/or that have inspired broader awareness and/or engagement.

Ghost Fishing UK originated in 2015, training voluntary scuba divers to survey and recover lost fishing gear, with the aim to either return it to the fishing industry or recycle it. The charity is run entirely by volunteers and has gone from strength to strength, only last year winning the Best Plastic Campaign at the Plastic Free Awards.

Now, the charity has also been recognised at seemingly the opposite end of the spectrum. This is a unique achievement as trustee Christine Grosart explains;

We have always held the belief that working with the fishing industry is far more productive than being against it, in terms of achieving our goals to reduce and remove lost fishing gear.

The positive response to our fisheries reporting system that we received from both the fishing industry and the marine environment sector, was evidence that working together delivers results.

The feedback we got from the awards evening and the two-day Scottish Skipper Expo where we had an exhibit the following day, was that the fishing industry despises lost fishing gear as much as we do and the fishers here are very rarely at fault. It is costly to them to lose gear and they will make every effort to get it back, but sometimes they can’t. That is where we come in, to try to help. Everyone wins, most of all the environment. You can’t ask for much more.”

Following the awards, Ghost Fishing UK held an exhibit at the Scottish Skipper expo at the new P&J Live exhibition centre in Aberdeen.

This gave us a fantastic opportunity to meet so many people in the fishing industry, all of whom were highly supportive of our work and wanted to help us in any way they could. This has opened so many opportunities for the charity and our wish list which has been on the slow burner for the last 7 years, was exceeded in just 3 days. We came away from the events exhausted, elated, humbled, grateful and most of all, excited.”

Trustee and Operations Officer, Fred Nunn, is in charge of the diving logistics such as arranging boats and organising the divers, who the charity trains in house, to give up their free time to volunteer.

He drove from Cornwall to attend the awards and the exhibition: “What a crazy and amazing few days up in Scotland! It was awesome to meet such a variety of different people throughout the industry, who are all looking at different ways of improving the sustainability and reduction of the environmental impact of the fishing industry.

It was exciting to have so many people from the fishing industry approaching us to find out more about what we do, but also what they could offer. Fishermen came to us with reports and offers of help, using their vessels and other exhibitors tried to find ways that their product or service could assist in our mission.”

  • Ghost Fishing UK uses hard boat charters from Cornwall to Scotland for the diving projects, paying it forward to the diving community.
  • The charity relies on reports of lost fishing gear from the diving and fishing community and to date has received well over 200 reports, culminating on over 150 survey and ghost gear recovery dives, amounting to over 1000 individual dives and diver hours by the volunteer team members.
  • You can find more information at ghostfishing.co.uk
  • If you are a fisher who knows of any lost fishing gear, you can report it to the charity here: ghostfishing.co.uk/fishermans-reporting
  • The charity is heading to Shetland for a week-long project in the summer of 2023. If you would like to support this project, please contact them at: info@ghostfishing.co.uk

Chair of Ghost Fishing UK and professional technical diving instructor Dr Richard Walker was immensely proud of the team’s achievements;

I’ve been a scuba diver since 1991 and have met thousands of divers in that time. I’d be hard pushed to think of one of them that wasn’t concerned about conservation of our marine environment. To be recognised by the fishing industry for our efforts in sustainability is a huge honour for us, and has encouraged our team to work even harder to find, survey and remove lost fishing gear from the seas. The fact that the fishing industry recognises our efforts, and appreciates our stance as a group that wants to work alongside them is one of the highlights of our charity’s history, and we look forward to building the relationship further.

To find out more about Ghost Fishing UK visit their website here.


All images: Ghost Fishing UK

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Booking deadline: Subject to availability – book and stay before end of June 2022

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