“We are tied to the ocean,” President John F. Kennedy once observed, and that’s never been more true than today. The oceans still harbor billions and billions of animals, but human-caused actions threaten these vast areas and the great and tiny creatures who inhabit them. In the oceans, humans harpoon whales, they ensnare whales, dolphins and porpoises in commercial fisheries, they catch marine turtles in shrimp nets, they mine the coral reefs for tropical fish for the aquarium trade, haul in sharks by the tens of millions to slice off their fins, and deplete countless other species of fish in order to feed billions of people.
Marine issues are an important concern for The HSUS and its affiliates. We weigh in on protecting the oceans and creating protected sanctuaries. In addition, we work against outright cruelty and unjustifiable killing. You know about our efforts to protect seals in Canada and Namibia and sea lions in the American Northwest, but in celebration of National Oceans Month this June, here’s some of the latest news about our other work for ocean creatures.
A new report from the Environmental Investigation Agency, with Humane Society International and the Natural Resources Defense Council, shows that the Japanese website of California-based Yahoo! continues to profit from the sale of whale and dolphin products. For example, in March Yahoo! Japan was offering 249 whale products, including sashimi and canned whale meat, for sale on its fee-based sales and auction sites. Several companies on Yahoo! Japan’s website were even selling endangered species such as fin whale. You can ask Yahoo! to stop selling these products here.
The state of Orissa in India is home to the world’s largest nesting area for the olive ridley sea turtle, which is classified as vulnerable to extinction. HSI recently worked with a local group, Action for Protection of Wild Animals, and residents to survey the threats faced by nesting olive ridley turtles. A team of volunteers trained by HSI will patrol to protect the turtle nests from feral dogs, assist hatchlings into the ocean, and educate other community members and tourists about the issue.
More than 13,000 supporters from 100 countries and all 50 U.S. states signed a petition submitted this week that asks the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to propose greater protections for polar bears at the next meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. The international trade in polar bears parts threatens these animals, already at risk from the effects of climate change. We are fighting efforts in Congress that would allow imports of sport-hunted polar bear trophies from Canada.
A bill awaiting the governor’s signature in Illinois would ban the possession, sale, trade, and distribution of shark fins. If enacted, Illinois will join California, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington to provide critical protection to sharks and help preserve the health of the world's oceans. New York, New Jersey and Delaware are also considering bans on shark fin products.
Ocean animals in the aquarium trade
Hawaii is the world’s third-largest supplier of reef wildlife for the aquarium trade. According to a new omnibus poll conducted by Ward Research and commissioned by The HSUS and HSI, the vast majority of Hawaii's residents (66 percent) support ending the commercial collection of aquatic life for aquarium purposes. Close to half of these fragile reef animals die before reaching their destination, and those who do survive the journey to pet stores often die within a year.