Saturday, November 10, 2012

Our Illustrated Guide to the Marine Mammal Protection Act & Fuel 4 the #Twitterverse

Have you ever read the actual Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) of the United States? At Voice of the Orcas, we hadn't, until now. We focused on the part that deals with placing cetaceans into captivity, which begins on page 20, "Regulations on (the) taking of Marine Mammals." 

Understanding what the MMPA says is useful because the #SeaCircus industry is an entertainment one, and is not fulfilling the spirit of the MMPA which suggests conservation, education and wild animal research. There was no research going on at SeaWorld on behalf of wild populations, or on the fisheries they depend on, when we were there. The big push was to try and figure out artificial insemination methods so they could boost the captive population. After all, the show must go on

The photos help make our point. [It's interesting to note that SeaWorld is partially responsible for the MMPA because of how the company decimated the Southern Resident orca population here: Rounding up Shamu with Don Goldsberry]

This looks similar to the Miami Dolphins football LOGO. The team just partnered up with SeaWorld for a marketing deal

2 Follow:
Below, you'll find the legislation, as passed by the United States Congress in 1972, and as amended in 2007. But keep scrolling past that for our illustrated guide. Remember, we're reprinting the MMPA's first page below, unaltered. The only thing we added were the images.  

The Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972

We believe that many of today's marine parks are in violation of this law. If not from a technical or legal standpoint, surely from the standpoint of being in violation of the spirit of the law

Morgan has been abducted by the #SeaCircus Industry because she is worth millions. If she becomes pregnant SeaWorld owns her baby and she will never be released. This is how SeaWorld is getting around the MMPA

To make this point clear, we've juxtaposed the opening page of the MMPA with photographs of the ridiculous stunts that the #SeaCircus industry is using to entertain the public. As you look at the images, try to imagine what type of learning it provides. Remember, the agreement to keep cetaceans captive is based upon the promise of education. 

And, to make matters worse, when places like SeaWorld claim they "educate" the public, such as during shows for school children, they provide false information. Here at VOTO, we know this as fact, because, sadly, we did it ourselves, back in the 1990's. 

Orca captivity will end if SeaWorld stops breeding animals in captivity. We urge the industry to use contraception to prevent future pregnancies. This poor guy, Taku, died young and impregnated his own mother, producing Nalani

Things like orca longevity are skewed downward so SeaWorld can better explain why their orcas die young, on average. They tout teeth irrigation(s) as "superior dental care." But they don't mention that the animals are breaking their teeth because of captivity. And they describe the frozen-thawed smelt, herring, and salmon as "restaurant quality," when in reality, its not. There is no such label on that fish. And they fail to mention that the freezing-thawing process removes precious fresh-water (fluids) from the dead fish which leads to dehydration in captive cetaceans. This is why Tilikum's diet is supplemented with 10 gallons of gelatin daily (roughly 80 U.S. pounds or 36.28 Kilograms). 

Like us, cetaceans can't drink saltwater, so they rely on their food to get fresh water. 

These images are in the public domain, and some of them are shocking. Feel free to download these and post on Twitter. We have a brief conclusion at the end... 


The Marine Mammal Protection Act 

Findings and Declaration of Policy

16 U.S.C. 1361
Sec. 2. The Congress finds that—

(1) certain species and population stocks of marine mammals are, or may be, in danger 
of extinction or depletion as a result of man' s activities;

How does balancing on the rostrum of a captive orca justify taking Katina, Morgan, Corky, Tilikum, & Lolita from nature?

(2) such species and population stocks should not be permitted to diminish beyond the point at which they cease to be a significant functioning element in the ecosystem of which they are a part, and, consistent with this major objective, they should not be permitted to diminish below their optimum sustainable population. Further measures should be immediately taken to replenish any species or population stock which has already diminished below that population. In particular, efforts should be made to protect essential habitats, including the rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of similar significance for each species of marine mammal from the adverse effect of man' s actions;

This looks like a "Dance Gone Wrong" with Tilikum. But regardless, it has little educational value. Poor Tilikum, where are his TEETH? 

(3) there is inadequate knowledge of the ecology and population dynamics of such marine mammals and of the factors which bear upon their ability to reproduce themselves successfully;

When the graceful & shy belugas are dressed as circus clowns, it makes the GA Aquarium's request for 18 wild ones hard to swallow

(4) negotiations should be undertaken immediately to encourage the development of international arrangements for research on, and conservation of, all marine mammals;

(5) marine mammals and marine mammal products either—

(A) move in interstate commerce, or

(B) affect the balance of marine ecosystems in a manner which is important to other animals and animal products which move in interstate commerce, and that the protection and conservation of marine mammals and their habitats is therefore necessary to insure the continuing availability of those products which move in interstate commerce; and

The MMPA doesn't apply to Japanese killers at The Cove, but the demand for small cetaceans is created by the Display Industry (SeaWorld, Ga AQ, Miami SQ) #CaptivityKills
Photo from SeaShepherd Conservation Society used with Permission 

(6) marine mammals have proven themselves to be resources of great international significance, esthetic and recreational as well as economic, and it is the sense of the Congress that they should be protected and encouraged to develop to the greatest extent feasible commensurate with sound policies of resource management and that the primary objective of their management should be to maintain the health and stability of the marine ecosystem. Whenever consistent with this primary objective, it should be the goal to obtain an optimum sustainable population keeping in mind the carrying capacity of the habitat.

This is an advertisement for SeaWorld's night show. Where's the educational part?
This is a #SeaCircus designed to entertain customers, NOT educate our children

From Page 22 of the MMPA 

(2)(A) A permit may be issued to take or import a marine mammal for the purpose of 
public display only to a person which the Secretary determines—
(i) offers a program for education or conservation purposes that is based on professionally recognized standards of the public display community


COMMENT: And there's the loophole, highlighted above. What that last part, in yellow, basically does is allow for the "public display community" to develop it's own standards. And therein lies the problem. 

The answer to this is: 

1. Science
2. Organization / social media 
3. Educating the public
4. Getting involved with government 
5. Electing progressive leaders

Thanks to all of you who are reading this now and spreading the good word. We're on the right side of history. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Politics of Captivity and Why Your Vote Matters




--------------------- ORIGINAL ARTICLE BELOW --------------------

If you're disillusioned with the political environment in the United States...   join the club

Frankly, and sadly, as Ice Cube & Tom Morello recently put it, "Everythang's Corrupt." [note: The video is hardcore]

That said, there is a clear choice this election, and we at Voice of the Orcas believe the Obama-Biden Administration is more suited to deal with issues like climate change and ocean acidification; things that directly impact humans, whales, and all life on Earth. This is reflected, already, in the President's investment in clean-energy renewable resources such as wind and solar. See how many wind turbines have been added to this Central Washington landscape since our President was elected in 2008: 

It's worth pointing out that the GOP and it's voters are pro-deregulation. For them, it's all about providing a business climate that does one thing: 

Make Money for Corporations

We have no problem with businesses making profits, but only if it's done responsibly. Often times, the de-regulators get rid of policies and rules that protect animals and nature. Incredulously, the GOP hasn't officially recognized that climate change is happening. 

It's this deregulation & tweaking of the Marine Mammal Protection Act that has gutted oversight of places like SeaWorld, the Miami SeaQuarium, & various marine zoos, and catalyzed the explosive development of these dolphin swim-with programs in places like Las Vegas and the Florida Keys. This translates into more dead dolphins & pilot whales at The Cove. 

We don't believe there is educational value to this. Unfortunately, two of these orca,Taku & Kalina, died young, at 14 & 25, respectively. Taku from West Nile Virus, and Kalina from bacteria in her blood

This is wrong. NOAA & APHIS should be more empowered to protect marine mammals, not less. 

(Only time will tell if the Georgia Aquarium & SeaWorld will successfully import 18 Russian caught belugas). 

We believe that an Obama Administration is more likely to enforce regulations that are already on the books, and will interpret legislation like the Marine Mammal Protection Act more favorably than a pro-Romney, (more) pro-corporation, administration.

We also believe that an Obama Administration is more likely to uphold the recent findings of the OSHA v SeaWorld hearings, in Sanford, Florida. SeaWorld has appealed this ruling, and a Romney appointed Secretary of Labor is more likely to "roll back" OSHA's findings, and his orders. Back in June, Federal Judge Ken S. Welsch stated: 

"SeaWorld's own incident reports demonstrate that its safety program, either due to misplaced faith in operant conditioning or due to human error in implementing operant conditioning, exposes its trainers to the risks of death or serious physical injury."

Read Judge Welsch's entire verdict here. We recommend you skip the legal stuff in the beginning and go to the final pages:

This is embarrassing.  The justification for keeping cetaceans, like Lolita, in captivity, is that the place educates. What are we teaching our children by endorsing this type of activity? Poor Lolita. 

It's also interesting to note that theses places promote, endorse, and give the majority of their campaign dollars to GOP candidates, and less for conservation:   

SeaWorld Gave GOP More Money than It Spent on Conservation

These dollars are provided to mostly Republican candidates because they often lead to benefits for the companies, including loosening the rules associated with cetacean captivity. Despite record profits in 2011, SeaWorld paid no Federal Income Tax this year. Read that story here: 

Shamu the shrewd? SeaWorld sees record earnings -- and no income tax

Loosening regulations on the #SeaCircus has created a demand for more cetaceans. The end result is that Russian and Japanese collectors are experiencing large financial incentives to trap and even kill cetaceans, as is happening in The Cove, right now.  To quote a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Dmitri Glasov: 

"Over probably the last three years, since China is developing quickly and they are building oceanariums, they are requesting lots of these animals. In Russia, as strange as it sounds, there is quite high domestic demand for this animal, too. That's why the number of commercial organizations that want to catch them and apply for permission to do so has gone up.