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Zoodefenders, concerned about the state of health of killer whales and beluga whales in the “whale prison” in the bay of Primorsky Krai, appealed to the South-Sakhalin City Court demanding the release of animals. It is reported by the regional public organization (ROO) “Sakhalin Environmental Watch” on Friday.
“The Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk City Court ordered the respondents and interested parties to submit their objections to the statement of claim before March 7, after which the date for its consideration will be set,” the statement reads.
The defendants in the lawsuit are Rosprirodnadzor, the Ministry of Agriculture of Russia and the Federal Agency for Fishery. The interested parties are four commercial companies that caught animals for sale in foreign oceanariums (Afalina, DV Aquarium, White Whale and Sochi Dolphinarium), as well as the Primorsky Border Guard of the Federal Security Service of Russia, which organized an independent comprehensive expert assessment of the state of killer whales and beluga in January of this year.
Zoodefenders, according to the RPO, demand “to recognize the inaction of Rosprirodnadzor as illegal, oblige it to free the killer whales and beluga whales from the illegal possession of commercial companies and to release them into their natural habitat.”
Among the requirements is also to declare illegal a number of orders of the Ministry of Agriculture and the Federal Agency for Fisheries on the approval of the total allowable catch of killer whales and beluga whales in 2018, on the allocation of quotas for their catch and on the approval of plans for the implementation of fisheries for cultural and educational purposes.
“Three white whales disappeared from the adaptation center without a trace, and the condition of the killer whales deteriorated significantly, one of them is close to death. There are all legal grounds for returning animals to their natural habitat, but they not only continue to illegally be held in terrible conditions in captivity, but not a single state body has even filed a lawsuit about their release, ”the RPO notes.
Zoodefenders state that for their numerous appeals the state structures of the issue of making decisions about the release of marine mammals “are carefully avoided.” They report that “in despair of getting practical action to release animals from the relevant state authorities,” they decided to go to court themselves.
As reported, in 2018, 12 killer whales and 90 belugas were caught in the Sea of Okhotsk for sale to foreign dolphinariums and aquariums.
After the intervention of the public, the active actions of the General Prosecutor’s Office and the TFR revealed that the animals were caught with numerous violations of the law. The proceedings are being conducted in the framework of a criminal case initiated under part 3 of article 256 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (illegal extraction of aquatic biological resources).
Initially, the investigation was conducted by employees of the SSR Primorye SU, then they transferred the materials to the Ministry of Internal Affairs for the Khabarovsk Territory, and those to the regional SU of the TFR.
In December, three beluga whales disappeared from the enclosures, trappers claim that they swam away, environmentalists believe that the animals died. Experts who visited the whale prison in January reported that the animals look sick, one killer whale is not active at all. The water area where the enclosures are located is covered with ice, while staying in the ice is not typical for killer whales.
Source: Maritime News of Russia