No decision yet on export of live marine mammals – international pressure grows

The international pressure continues to mount as the Namibian Government is still considering an application by a Chinese company to export live marine mammals to the Far East. The Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources is still waiting for a recommendation by the Fisheries Management Committee (FMC) before he can make his final decision.

“I cannot say yes or no yet,” said Bernhard Esau, Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, after the recent Ministerial Conference Meeting of the Benguela Current Convention (BCC) in Swakopmund. It was the 5th BCC meeting and Esau was inaugurated as the new chairperson for two years, taking over from Dr Victória de Barros Neto, Minister of Fisheries from the Republic of Angola.
“We need to remember that Namibia is a member of CITES (The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora),” Esau said. CITES is a multilateral treaty to protect endangered plants and animals. The Minister added that the CITES Convention must be respected when considering such an application. Although he said that a final decision is still outstanding, he could not give a time-frame, when he will give his answer. “It will not be this year still,” he said.
Meanwhile the International Marine Mammal Project has issued a press release stating that “the ecological, scientific, environmental and animal welfare consequences of the proposal are potentially catastrophic (…)” The project states that the proposal should not be considered, as all over the world, private persons, international NGOs and scientists continue to urge the Namibian Government to not sell marine wildlife to the marine captivity industry.
In September this year namib times reported that a Chinese company, Welwitschia Aquatic and Wildlife Scientific Research Pty Ltd, and its partner, Beijing Ruier Animal Breeding and Promoting Co., submitted a proposal to the Government of Namibia to capture various marine animals for the aquatic trade. The animals include killer whales and hundreds of dolphins, pinnipeds, penguins and sea birds and ship them to China for lifetimes in captivity.
“While we fully understand the need for Namibia to assert itself in potentially lucrative trade deals that benefit the people of Namibia, trade deals that lead to the destruction of wildlife and the environment should be declined,” said Katherine Hanly of the International Marine Mammal Project. And: “In an effort led by Namibians Against the Plundering of Our Seas, organizations including the Earth Island Institute’s International Marine Mammal Project, as well as Namibian businesses, scientists and thousands of people around the world are demanding that the Namibian Government not give in to Chinese pressure and allow this highly dubious trade to happen.”

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