26 November 2011

Responses to RWS letter "Dolphins bound for Singapore park not endangered"

The following responses are with regards to RWS letter "Dolphins bound for Singapore park not endangered" (Inquirer, 22/11/2011)



Response from Earth Island Institute and Philippine Animal Welfare Society


This is in response to the letter by Resorts World Singapore (RWS) last 22 November 2011 through Mr. Lim Soon Hua, the RWS Director for Communications.

We beg to disagree that the method they used to obtain the dolphins conforms to CITES requirements. In fact, the export of dolphins from the Solomon Islands was put under the Review of Significant Trade in the Animals Committee of CITES in 2008 due to the issue of sustainability.

In that meeting in 2008, the Solomon Islands government committed to stopping the export of dolphins if it was proven to be unsustainable. This September 2011, the government of the Solomon Islands announced that all dolphin exports will be banned starting January 2012, an admission that the past dolphin hunts have been largely unregulated and unsustainable.

It is also doubtful that the facility where the dolphins are being kept is truly a ‘well established facility’. The Ocean Adventure Park which houses the dolphins has had 4 out of its 5 false killer whales die in just a few years of operation. All four false killer whales were all juveniles and died before they were sexually mature.

Moreover, Ocean Adventure has been sued for the violation of the Environmental Impact Statement System of the Philippines (PD 1586) as well as the violation of the Animal Welfare Act (RA 8485), a well established facility, indeed!

As for the 25 dolphins from the Solomon Islands, none of the government officials from the Philippine Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and Bureau of Animal Industry-Animal Welfare Division (BAI-AWD) can verify their current condition based on our meetings with these two agencies. In fact, both the BFAR and BAI-AWD have not inspected the dolphins in their facility and could not even tell us if all 25 dolphins are alive.

If the animals are really being given the best care, then why are their enclosures off-limits to the public? Why were members of the Animal Concerns Education and Research Society of Singapore (ACRES), Earth Island Institute (EII) and the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) not allowed to see the animals as they were being trained last 14 November? It is clear that Ocean Adventure and Resorts World Singapore have something to hide, and it is spelled C-R-U-E-L-T-Y.

Signed,
Trixie Concepcion
Regional Director
Earth Island Institute

Anna Cabrera
DirectorPhilippine
Animal Welfare Society




Response from Animal Concerns Research & Education Society (ACRES) Singapore


ACRES to RWS: Set the record straight


I refer to the letter "Dolphins bound for Singapore park not endangered" (Inquirer 11/22/11).


Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) states it believes in "controlled collection of particular species" and that it complied with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).


However, can RWS clarify if it conducted proper scientific studies into the status of the Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins in the Solomon Islands prior to their capture?


Can RWS scientifically state that its capture of the 27 dolphins was not detrimental to the survival of this species in the Solomon Islands?


Lastly, does RWS agree with the statement that the preference for Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins as a captive display species "makes them vulnerable to depletion from such catches"?


Due to the lack of scientific data, the world conservation union IUCN urged CITES parties in 2007 to not issue import permits for dolphins captured in the Solomon Islands (www.ssn.org/Documents/IUCN_CSG_to_CITES.pdf).


The National Museum and The Silliman University (the Philippines CITES Scientific Authorities for marine and aquatic species) similarly opposed the import of the RWS wild-caught dolphins into the Philippines.


The National Museum stated “The National Museum…firmly opposes this illicit activity. This must not be tolerated”.


The Silliman University stated (referring to the RWS dolphins importation) “the importation should not have been allowed. The Non-Detrimental Finding (NDF) is not credible… the Philippines by allowing these importations under the cover of a non-credible NDF may well be participating in the unsustainable exploitation of a marine mammal, something at odds with our national policy (under law) of protecting marine mammals”.


The importion of the dolphins into the Philippines should never have been allowed in accordance with Section 6 of the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act or RA 9147. The reality is that the import took place without the "proper evaluation of best available information or scientific data showing that the activity is, or for a purpose, not detrimental to the survival of the species or subspecies involved and/or their habitat..."


ACRES hopes that the Philippines government rights this wrong and repatriates these dolphins back to the Solomon Islands where we can rehabilitate and release them back into the wild. We should note that the Solomon Islands government has already passed a new policy to ban the export of live dolphins, beginning January next year.


ACRES wholeheartedly supports the establishment of the Marine Life Park, but we hope that RWS opens a park that focuses on ethical acquisition of animals, the keeping of animals that can cope with captivity and a park that focuses on proper, in-situ conservation efforts.


Louis Ng (MSc)

Executive Director

ACRES

www.acres.org.sg


91 Jalan Lekar

Singapore 698917

(O): +65 6892 9821

(F): +65 6892 9721




Related:

Set dolphins free, group urges gov't | Inquirer Global Nation


RWS' actuations suggest it has something to hide | Inquirer Opinion


To RWS, Dolphin Conservation is about Basketballs & Hula Loops



For more information on the campaign "Save the World's Saddest Dolphins", please visit the official website SaddestDolphins.com


Or refer to my Blog Page "Save World's Saddest Dolphins"



19 November 2011

To RWS, Dolphin Conservation is about Basketballs & Hula Loops

ACRES PRESS RELEASE
18 November 2011

ACRES FILMS TRAINING SESSION OF RWS WILD-CAUGHT DOLPHINS BUT TOLD TO LEAVE

SINGAPORE, 18 November 2011 – On 14 November 2011, representatives from ACRES, Earth Island Institute (EII) and the Philippines Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) visited Ocean Adventure in the Philippines to film training sessions of the Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) wild-caught dolphins. It was, however, regrettable that staff members of the facility tried to prevent ACRES from filming the dolphins. The RWS wild-caught dolphins were filmed confined in small enclosures, and some have been housed there for almost three years. They were also filmed with basketballs and hula hoops.

Between 2008 and 2009, RWS damaged Singapore’s good international reputation by buying 27 wild-caught Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus) from the Solomon Islands (who have since banned the export of live dolphins with effect from January 2012). In 2010, two of the dolphins died whilst undergoing training, despite the top-class care that RWS had promised. The remaining 25 wild-caught dolphins are currently being housed and trained at Ocean Adventure in The Philippines and will be transported to RWS soon.

ACRES, EII and PAWS purchased admission tickets to Ocean Adventure and entered the area opposite to where the remaining 25 RWS wild-caught dolphins were being housed. There were no signs indicating that this was a restricted area and none indicating that we were not allowed to film the RWS wild-caught dolphins.

“Initially, we were told we could remain in the area but were not allowed to film the dolphins. However, we were later politely told to leave the area and we were not allowed to film the dolphins, but could film anywhere else in Ocean Adventure. We did not hold any placards or hold any demonstration and remained civil throughout the entire time. We eventually left the area. All we wanted to do was film the dolphins and witness the training sessions. If RWS has nothing to hide, why are members of the public not allowed to film the wild-caught dolphins?” said Ms. Christina Lee, Campaigns Officer of ACRES.

ACRES, EII and PAWS witnessed and filmed the trainers introducing basketballs and hula-hoops to the dolphins, something highly unnatural. We are puzzled by this as RWS has always maintained that they have no plans for animal shows.

Furthermore, RWS recently stated in their job advertisement that the Marine Mammal Specialist (Job ID 11912) responsibilities include “behavioral conditioning of the mammals for…show-type behaviors". They, however, clarified that “the responsibilities of the marine mammal specialists include engaging in enrichment practices with the dolphins to display natural behaviors commonly seen in the wild…”.

“It is tragic to see these dolphins, who once roamed the vast open oceans, now having to resort to playing with basketballs and hula hoops. We hope that RWS provides the public with complete details with regard to how the dolphins are housed and trained and that they be truthful. ACRES remains committed to an open dialogue, but we regret that RWS have continued to decline to respond to all our concerns and have now prevented us from filming how the wild-caught dolphins are housed and trained” said Mr. Louis Ng, Executive Director of ACRES.

Contact:Louis Ng (Executive Director, ACRES)
Email: louis@acres.org.sg
Tel (O): +65 6892 9821

- Ends -









For more information, please go to the official website of the campaign "Save the World's Saddest Dolphins" at SaddestDolphins.com

Petitions:
1) Save the Saddest Dolphins via Avaaz.org


11 November 2011

What's wrong with swimming with dolphins?

On the surface, swim-with-the-dolphin (SWTD) programs seems like a fun, safe way to get up close and personal with these fascinating creatures of the sea. The dolphins appear to smile as they pull laughing children around swimming pools by their dorsal fins. But you don't have to look too deep beneath this whimsical fa├žade to realise that there is something fundamentally wrong with all swim-with-the-dolphin programs.



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