Most people believe that it is third world countries that lack stringent and effective animal welfare laws, you can imagine my suprise when I found out Canada made this list. When you think of animal welfare you assume that all animals are covered, however in Canada Marine Mammals (cetaceans such as Whales, Dolphins and also the shark family) are not. A little further digging has brought up several cases where marine mammals have not perhaps been treated in the best manner however thats beyond this diary entry.
Earlier in the week I tweeted about how the USA was permitting a new aquarium opening in Toronto to hunt sand tiger sharks of the coast of South Carolina. The sand tiger shark is listed as endangered on the IUCN redlist. The 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act provides protection for captive marine mammals in the USA, and also the hunting of marine mammals from the sea under a permit scheme. The hunt and capture of the sand tiger sharks is under a Marine Mammal Permit. I am against the taking of any animal from the wild for commercial or entertainment enterprises, in this case the aquarium have sourced 3 from another aquarium so it is beyond me why they want more. In addition the method used for the capture of these animals causes devastation
Anyways, since that tweet I have come across the fact that Canada has no legislation for marine mammals. I believe it is a irresponsible decision for the USA to grant this whilst there is no legislation protecting them in Canada where they’ll be transported to. In addition the track record of the ability of Canada to regulate and protect these animals is dubious at best. In 1998 Zoocheck commissioned a team of marine mammal experts to inspect Marineland in Niagara Falls in Canada who produced a report describing conditions as “appalling”. The Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals whilst having the power to lay charges, there is a lack of enforcable standards against which conditions can be compared to in order to bring charges. In addition a lack of specialised knowledge of these marine mammals has also been highlighted as preventing OSPCA taking action.
It is a well acknowledged fact that the life expectancy of marine mammals is significantly reduced in captivity. In the UK the legislation is so strict that there are no dolphins in captivity that I am aware of. Many other countries legislate for Marine Mammals including Chile who banned the display, capture, import and export completely in 2005.
I realise that marine mammals post a mystery to many people, however by visiting them in aquariums are you really learning? It is certainly possible to teach as much, if not more through talks with videos as it is to learn by seeing these majestic creatures in environments made out of concrete. If you really wish to learn do a scuba course (BSAC in the UK offer great discounts for students!), and get out to see these animals in their natural environment.
The is a petition online here against the import of these Endangered sharks.