Namibian activists outraged over bid to export endangered animals
WINDHOEK: The Namibian government has ordered inspectors from the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources to keep a close eye on a Chinese-hired fishing vessel which has been anchored off Walvis Bay, while awaiting a government decision on an application to capture hundreds of whales, African penguins and common, bottle-nosed dolphins for export to zoos.
The Ryazanovka is a Russian- flagged whaling boat which is believed to have been hired by Chinese zoos to capture and translocate the animals as soon as the Namibian government grants permission.
News of the Chinese application for the capture of the three marine animal species, which are listed on appendix 2 of the endangered species list of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES), has enraged local and international conservation and anti-whaling groups over the past five months.
An online petition calling on the Namibian government to decline the application for capture and translocation of the animals to China by Welwitschia Aquatic and Wildlife Scientific Research Pty Ltd and the Beijing Ruier Animal Breeding & Promoting Company, has to date garnered 6 000 signatures.
Permanent Secretary in the Nambian Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources Moses Maurihungirire said the Ryazanovka, a specialised whaling vessel, could be engaged in the illegal capture of endangered marine species on Namibian waters. The ministry had ordered fisheries inspectors to keep it under close surveillance until the government decided on the application in a fortnight.
“We cannot prevent any vessels from entering our waters, but we can prevent them from doing illegal fishing activities. We have been flooded with emails over the application. But the resources belong to the public and fortunately they have an able ministry of fisheries, which has a holistic view of our resources,” he said.
According to information from the International Maritime Organisation, the Ryazanovka is a 45m long, 448 ton Russian flagged-fishing vessel, sailing under IMO registration number 8847076. Although its call sign is listed as “UEMX”, its current position, destination and “last report” are all listed as unknown on the IMO vessel tracking register.
Opponents of the application said contrary to the suggestion such capture would help preserve the species equilibrium between Namibia’s dolphins, whales and African penguin populations and the fish species they all feed on, there was no scientific evidence to support it.
Further, they pointed out that the applicants’ intention to harvest up to 100 bottle- nosed dolphins annually literally threatened the species with extinction on account of recent research findings which suggested no more than 100 common bottle-nosed dolphins were left in Namibian waters. – ANA
An African penguin.