21 Jun 2019 17:54

Ban on capture of whales for oceanariums is huge victory - animal rights activists

MOSCOW. June 21 (Interfax) - The decision to ban the capture of whales for oceanariums in Russia will reduce the number of captured animals and will help their return to their natural habitat after being studied, the coalition of environmental organizations Free Orcas and Beluga Whales said.

"It's a huge victory and wonderful news, we were all very happy when we heard that what we had sought and what the Russian public initiative to ban capture for cultural and education purposes was created had happened. It will really reduce the number of animals captured, but we are still against any captures, including for research purposes, because animals can and should be studied in their natural habitat without being captured," Tatyana Belei, an official with the dolphin rescue center Delfa and animal rights activist, told Interfax on Friday.

It is no impossible to fully ban the capture of animals, she said.

"In any case, loopholes are created in such quotas as well, but it will become impossible to capture animals in such amounts, control will be much stronger," Belei said.

Captures are obligated to return animals to their natural habitat in situations of capture for scientific purposes, she said.

It was announced during Russian President Vladimir Putin's Q&A session on Thursday that two orcas and six belugas kept in the "whale jail" in Srednyaya Bay in the Primorye Territory had been put into water tanks mounted on trucks headed for Khabarovsk. They will reach the harvesting area in the Sea of Okhotsk by boat from there. The transportation will take six days. There are still nine orcas and 81 belugas being kept in Primorye.

According to earlier reports, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexei Gordeyev said during a Q&A session with Russian President Vladimir Putin that the capture of orcas and beluga whales for cultural and educational purposes in Russia will be banned.