Animal protection groups yesterday urged the public to boycott shows featuring whales and dolphins, and called for increased public awareness about the number of cetaceans being captured, traded or slaughtered worldwide.
Environmental and Animal Society of Taiwan director Chen Yu-min (陳玉敏) told a news conference in Taipei that cetacean poaching is the most rampant in the waters off the town of Taiji in Wakayama Prefecture, Japan, where as many as 400,000 small cetaceans were captured or slaughtered over the past 20 years.
Chen said Japan is the world’s largest exporter of cetaceans and that by purchasing these animals, Taiwanese recreational facilities have become accomplices in a “cruel” industry.
Citing the Farglory Ocean Park in Hualien County as an example, she said the park purchased 17 cetaceans from Japanese dealers between 2002 and 2005, and ordered 13 more in 2010.
Even though the Forestry Bureau stepped in to block the sales, citing high mortality rates and poor living conditions at the facility, the incident revealed the challenges that other cetaceans face at local recreational parks, including 21 California sea lions, 18 common bottlenose dolphins, four South American fur seals, four white whales, one Risso’s dolphin and one African manatee, the activists said.
“As long as people continue to attend these shows, the cruelty against cetaceans will never cease,” she said.
Citing a special act in the UK governing the living space of cetaceans at zoos, which stipulates that at least 1,000m3 be allotted per five cetaceans kept by zoos and that another 200m3 be allocated with each additional cetacean, she said that three of the 11 dolphins at Yehliu Ocean World in New Taipei City share a space of just 288m3, with the others being confined to two tiny pools each measuring 236m3.
“These appalling living environments have a very detrimental effect on the dolphins, such as impairing their ability to tell directions and feed crop milk,” she said.
Environment and Animal Society of Taiwan chief executive Chu Tseng-hung (朱增宏) said that the nation lacks a law dedicated to the care and maintenance of marine animals.