On the April 22th the regular meeting of Ichtyological Commission took place. The order of the day there were three questions: report of Dr. L.M.Mukhametov about economical, scientific, educational and other benefits of keeping dolphins in captivity, discussion about foregoing in October 3rd biennial conference “Marine mammals of Holarctic” and approval of the additions for the “Rules of capturing of cetaceans” concerning orca capturing.
L.M.Mukhametov in his report mostly touched upon economical aspects of dolphins’ keeping in captivity, and also mentioned the importance of keeping itself and its economical aspects for the Russian science. Besides this, as one of the arguments he used the necessity of development of methods of dolphins’ keeping and breeding in captivity and cited an example of practically extinct Chinese river dolphin, which was tried to breed in captivity, but the attempt was unsuccessful because of lack of methods. Moreover, L.M.Mukhametov mentioned that Utrish Dolphinarium has recently faced with the problem of export of captured animals, because CITES commission refused to give him permissions. In this connection he also mentioned the Russian office of IFAW (International Fund of Animal Welfare), who’s representative is the member of CITES, and, by the opinion of the talker, contribute to the transmission of confidential information to the “greens”.
The report was followed by the active discussion. Director of Russian IFAW office M.V.Vorontsova declared that there was no information transmission from CITES. Some of the people present expressed their opinion about the problem of dolphins’ keeping in captivity. As usual, people divided into two contending parties – “for” and “against”, and nothing constructive was the result of this regular discussion of the old problem. I remembered the remark of A.V.Yablokov that “keeping dolphins in captivity is not humanely, but necessary”. At the end it was unexpectedly (at least for me) cleared up that the aim of all this discussion was “to discuss this problem” in response to the letter from the Ministry. Commission decided to state all the opinions and consider the problem to be “discussed”. All this debate left the feeling of the time spent for nothing and undecided question “for what was all this?”
After that followed the discussion of the Conference, which I will not describe, and approval of the additions for the “Rules of capturing of cetaceans” concerning orca capturing. These additions were worked out by L.M.Mukhametov on the base of the previous experience and mainly aimed to increase the safety of people and animals during the capturing. Besides this, the remarks of Sevvostrybvod to these additions were presented. Both documents make a good impression and seem to be assigned to benefit both people and animals. BUT: firstly, Marine Mammal Council sent the project of additions neither to Russian Scientific Fisheries Research Institute, nor to IFAW and other concerning institutions. Second, when there was put a question how the additions will be approved, it was found out that nobody knows which instance should be responsible for this. There was expressed the opinion that if the “Rules of capturing of cetaceans” were signed by Putin, so he should also approve the additions. L.M.Mukhametov was strongly against this, because this process can take several years, and he wanted to capture orcas this summer. He suggested to consider these additions to be just the “advices” and don’t refer to higher instances. On the question from the public “What will be the responsibility for those who will break these advices” the answer was “nothing”. In general, it is as usual – the rules exist, but nobody is going to fulfill them and nobody will account for this. Finally, it was decided to develop in a week the remarks for the additions by all concerning institutions, and the question about approval and responsibility was hushed up.