October 20 - An international meeting in San Francisco today slammed Russia for capturing an orca whale and killing another in defiance of the International Whaling Commission and in the face of world opinion. The Sunny Summit brought together 45 activists from 10 countries representing millions opposed to the exploitation of whales and dolphins in captive settings. A strongly worded resolution condemning the September 26th orca capture and death in Russia's far eastern Kamchatka waters was passed unanimously.
"The era of orca captures should be confined to history books" said Mark Berman of Earth Island Institute's International Marine Mammal Project and one of the Summit's organizers. "The last orca capture anywhere in the world took place in 1997 in Japan. It created such a wave of protest around the world that it is virtually certain Japan will never allow orca captures again. Years before that public opinion convinced Iceland to stop captures, and years before that it forced the USA and Canada to end the deadly practice. After all this time I am outraged that Russia would have the audacity to start it all over again."
Another Summit attendee, orca expert Dr. Paul Spong of Canada's OrcaLab supported Berman's declaration by adding "We know far too much about the complexity and fragility of orca society to condone the capture and removal of any family members. Orcas live in closely bonded families that remain together throughout life. Capture operations terrorise orca families as well as the individuals taken from them. During the era of orca captures in the Pacific Northwest many orcas were killed by entanglement in nets during capture operations. Now we are seeing this ugly pattern repeated in Russia. September 26th is a sad sad day for orcas and for everyone who cares about them."
In 2002 the Scientific Committee of the International Whaling Commission advised against any captures of orcas in Russian far eastern waters on the grounds that scientific studies of the population were just beginning and very little was known about it. "The IWC accepted the report of the Scientific Committee unanimously", said Spong. "There is no question at all about this - Russian attempts to capture orcas are a flagrant defiance of the IWC."
Berman and Spong plan to present the Sunny Summit Resolution against Russian Orca Captures to the Consul General of the Russian Federation at his 2790 Green Street San Francisco office at 10am Monday October 20th. Demonstrators protesting the capture and death as well as an additional 9 capture permits issued by the government of Russia will accompany them.
"This terror attack on orcas will be condemned around the world", said Berman.