30 Dec 2021 21:46

Putin signs law banning commercial harvesting of dolphins, whales in Russia

MOSCOW. Dec 30 (Interfax) - Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed into law a bill banning industrial and coastal catches of whales, dolphins, and harbor porpoises.

The document was published on the official online database of legal information.

The relevant amendments were introduced to the specific law on fisheries, as well as to the law on the exclusive economic zone of the Russian Federation.

As reported, the law uses the general term "cetaceans", and such amendments were made to the document at the stage of its second reading. Thus, commercial fishing is prohibited for all species of dolphins and whales, including sperm whales, narwhals, beluga whales, orcas, harbor porpoises and others.

At the same time, the law still doesn't prohibit catching of dolphins and whales for dolphinariums and oceanariums, that is, catching for the so-called cultural and educational purposes. In particular, deputies Svetlana Bessarab and Vladimir Burmatov (both of United Russia) have previously insisted on this. They believe that cetaceans with highly developed intelligence and social ties find it difficult to live in captivity, and such a ban would prevent the appearance of new "whale jails" in Russia in the future. Deputies also referred to international experience of such bans.

As reported later, a separate bill banning the fishing for cultural and educational purposes was submitted to the State Duma.

About a hundred orcas and belugas were caught in the Sea of Okhotsk in 2018 for Chinese oceanariums. Eleven orcas and 90 belugas were caged in Srednyaya Bay near Nakhodka, and animal rights activists dubbed the place as a "whale jail." Following interference of the public, the Prosecutor General's Office, and the Russian Investigative Committee, it turned out that the whales were harvested with numerous violations of law. Criminal and administrative cases were opened, and all animals were set free by November 10, 2019.

Russian President Putin instructed the government to improve legislation following the incident.