Seeking a Dolphinaria-Free Europe
Over the last few months, our focus has been on establishing and developing the sub-coalition to ENDCAP: Dolphinaria-Free Europe, which builds on the strengths of ENDCAP, and consolidates efforts to end the captivity of dolphins, whales and porpoises in Europe. Following the launch of the Dolphinaria-Free Europe coalition (DFE) in early March, focus has been to generate support from Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), specifically by asking them to pose for a photograph holding the DFE logo. So far, 33 MEP pledges have been collected but we need many more to demonstrate significant political support for a Dolphinaria-Free Europe.
The industry: the European Association of Aquatic Mammals (EAAM) is very active in the European Parliament and is specifically targeting those MEPs who have pledged in support of DFE. They have spent time to challenge many of the points made in DFE’s educational materials, they organised a visit to the Parliament by the cetacean vet, Andrew Greenwood on 28th May and had a Parliamentary event on 2nd June. This is testament that we must act to counteract their efforts and ensure MEPs question the existence of dolphinaria, rather than being persuaded to support cetacean captivity.
In our favour, perhaps surprisingly, is the reality TV show, ‘Dolphins with the Stars’, which tasks ‘celebrities’ to train individual dolphins to perform choreographed stunts to TV audiences. Previously broadcast in Lithuania, filming for broadcast had begun in Portugal, but actions by DFE caused the Portuguese Government to request the suspension of the filming. Actions are underway to confirm the filming in Portugal is suspended indefinitely, but we expect similar programmes in Spain and Italy. This programme demonstrates the exploitative nature of dolphinaria. DFE is actively campaigning against ‘Dolphins with the Stars’. To find out more and how you can help, contact us.
ENDCAP and DFE members are encouraged to please contact their MEPs, providing information about the exploitation of cetaceans in captivity, and asking them to demonstrate their support for a Dolphinaria-Free Europe. Contact us to identify your MEPs and receive a DFE logoed plaque
Action Plan against Illegal Wildlife Trade
On 15th April, the Born Free Foundation launched the report, ‘End Wildlife Trafficking’ at an exhibition of the same name at the European Parliament. The report’s focus, to persuade the European Commission to stand by their commitment to establish an EU Action Plan against Illegal Wildlife Trade, was supported by MEPs For Wildlife, a new Interest Group of MEPs that seek to facilitate action to curb the trafficking in wildlife and their products.
Thanks to the significant support from the MEPS For Wildlife group and the actions of numerous NGOs, the European Commission has confirmed that a proposal for an Action Plan will be delivered by the end of 2015. This will address, amongst other things, the trade in wild animals for sale and use as companion animals, or pets.
» Find out about the report ‘End Wildlife Trafficking’
Wild pet keeping in Europe
A new Dutch regulation came into force on 1st February 2015, which limits the type of animals that can be kept as pets, or companion animals. The list, which currently covers only mammals, means that any mammal species not included on the ‘Positive List’ cannot be legally kept, or are required to have a special permit. Owners currently keeping prohibited species have been permitted to keep their animals until their demise, but any trading or breeding is not permitted. Anyone acquiring a prohibited species risks prosecution and having their animal confiscated.
In other news, the Scottish Government has also unveiled plans to undertake a review of exotic pet welfare, including the breeding and sale of wild animal species as companion animals. ENDCAP remains committed to pursuing a Positive List for Wild Pets and works with likeminded NGOs across Europe to encourage other Member States to establish similar controls in pet keeping.
Help save the AW Unit
Anyone who has worked in Europe to enhance animal welfare would have learnt about the positive actions of Dr Andrea Gavinelli and his Animal Welfare Unit within the European Commission. Over a decade, this Unit has ensured animal welfare is on the agenda of European policy, from advocating the inclusion of Article 13 (TFEU) that recognises animal sentience, to the formation of two animal welfare strategies that have improved standards in animal welfare and its education across the EU. It is therefore deeply worrying to learn that the Unit may be dissolved and the responsibility of animal welfare devolved completely to the EU Member States. Concerning, considering that the majority of Member State Competent Authorities lack knowledge in animal welfare science and capacity to uphold existing laws. It is the restructuring of the European Commission that is to blame and in particular, a renewed focus on deregulation at the EU level, whereby many previous commitments to policy have been dropped or weakened.
European NGOs keen to improve the welfare of animals, must demonstrate a united voice to speak out in favour of animal welfare leadership from Europe. The importance of maintaining such responsibility in the European Commission is paramount to supporting and leading Member States to enhance standards in animal welfare, but at this opportune time, ensure their remit is broadened to include all animals under the care and control of human beings. Including wild animals in captivity.
Jacqueline Foster MEP, with our guidance, is proposing a ‘One Stop Shop’ for animal welfare in the European Commission, whereby a relevant department becomes responsible for upholding and improving standards in animal welfare of all species of animal in human care, irrespective of the animal, or its use. Currently we are pursuing a Written Declaration to demonstrate Parliamentary support for the ‘One Stop Shop’ proposal, and ENDCAP and DFE members will be contacted to help us secure required MEP support.
In the meantime, ENDCAP and DFE members are invited to support a call to the European Commission, asking that there remains a commitment to animal welfare and advocating the ‘One Stop Shop’ proposal. The proposed sign-on letter will be circulated soon.
The Elephant in the Room
A new short film “The Elephant in the Room”, focuses on the lonely, miserable lives of solitary elephants in zoos and circuses. Based upon the report by ENDCAP member, the Born Free Foundation, “Innocent Prisoner” and including interviews with leading elephant experts; the film provides an insight into the plight of 40 solitary elephants in Europe.
The elephant: the largest land mammal, highly social, intelligent, and a family animal that bonds for life and requires a complex environment that captivity cannot provide. ENDCAP members are encouraged to challenge the keeping of elephants in captivity, and other species requiring highly complex environments, on the basis that the EC Zoos Directive 1999/22 requires zoos to accommodate their animals under conditions that satisfy their biological needs. Perhaps more can be achieved through focusing on individual species, with a focus on their welfare needs? » Watch the film
CAPS and FAADA target Ads
A collaborative campaign targeted at TV advertisements by BOSCH, Brother and NIVEA, have had positive results, with the companies stating a review of the use of trained animals in advertising their products.
As a result of the campaigns www.AnimalPledge.org by the Captive Animals’ Protection Society (CAPS, UK) and www.adnimalsfree.org FAADA (Spain), and the public support they generate, scenes within the adverts including animals have been removed, or the whole advertisement shelved pending final decisions. NIVEA, which used a white lion cub within its advertisement, said: “We have taken the decision to eliminate the scene in question and to apply what we have learned from this experience to our future actions”.
Respect captive wild animals 2015
In the last six months, both the European Parliament and the European Commission has seen major change: newly elected Parliamentarians; and a new European Commission. There is no better time to reaffirm ENDCAP’s focus on the protection of captive wild animals in Europe.
Whilst it will be hard to gain the necessary support from Mr Junker, President of the European Commission, who is focused on job creation, growth and a stronger monetary union, ENDCAP does have the support of many Parliamentarians. Ensuring the MEPs are properly informed, they are prepared to champion our priorities. Topics of focus in 2015 include: a ‘one stop shop’ for animal welfare policy; competency in captive wild animal protection; animals in performance; pinioning; and the trade in and keeping of wild animals as companion animals. All members are encouraged to support and promote these initiatives, which will be discussed at our annual conference, soon to be announced.
Advocates for animals
Member of the European Parliament, Sirpa Pietikäinen (EPP, Finland, pictured) has received The Thank Animals Award at The Animal Protection Gala (Finland, November), recognising her long-term commitment to the protection of animals. Sirpa has been Vice-President on the Intergroup for Animal Welfare since 2009 and has worked on animal rights and welfare issues throughout her political career. ENDCAP would like to both congratulate and thank Sirpa for her work!
Recognising the importance of animal welfare to European Citizens, Jacqueline Foster (ECR, UK) has proposed the establishment of a ‘one stop shop’ to streamline animal welfare concerns under the existing Directorates-General structure. The Resolution urges the European Commission to represent animal welfare for all animal species under the management or care of human beings, acting as a single and central point of information and expertise.