May 2007


Yangtze River Dolphin (Baiji) 

Yangtze River Dolphin (Baiji) is it now extinct? A shocking tragedy from the Yangtze waters of Eastern China.

The Yangtze river dolphin for centuries was called the Goddess of the Yangtze.

The white fresh water Yangtze dolphin fed on fish and lived in groups of three or four and developed a highly effective sonar above it's beak. But the roar of marine traffic, along one of China's premier water ways effectively blocked out it's sonar system. Ships and tourist boats also sucked them into their propellers, pollution in the river poisoned their river home and most of all, they suffered because of over fishing.

In the 1950's there were several thousand Baiji, as the dolphins are known in China and they used to swim freely and happily in the Yangtze River.

It appears that the primary factor responsible for the presumed Baiji's extinction was probably unsustainable by-catch in uncontrolled local fisheries.

The presumed loss of the Baiji dolphin, such a unique and charismatic species is a shocking tragedy. The Yangtze River dolphin (Baiji) was a remarkable mammal that separated from all other species, over 20 million years ago.

We must take full responsibility in our role as guardians of the planet and we must not allow any more extinctions of endangered species.

When they've gone, they don't come back!


Better Protection Needed For Our Seals 

We need new legislation to protect seals in Scottish waters.

The Scottish seals forum us being asked to back calls to the Scottish executive for a comprehensive review of the Conservation of Seals Act 1970. It is shocking in this modern day and age that thousands of seals are shot or killed every year by fishing, fish farming and salmon angling industries.

The current act assumes that the unregulated killing of seals is acceptable and legitimate. Totally different to the law relating to the conservation of other mammals in the UK, which includes, whales, dolphins and porpoises.

Killing seals outside the "close Season" is not regulated, therefore a seal of any age or sex can legally be killed for most of the year. During the close season, a loop hole allows fisheries to shoot seals in the vicinity of fishing gear. 

The act allows lactating females to be killed and allows seals to be shot from moving boats which shockingly no doubt leads to a high probability of wounding as well as deaths.

The conservation of seals act 1970 is a relic of an era when attitudes to the killing of wild mammals were different. Then much less was known about the population dynamics and global importance of seals in UK waters.

As there is currently no requirement for records to be kept, it is not known how many seals are shot or killed each year.

Seals are now 'a very important asset' to the growing wild life tourism industry and we should cherish them not kill them!

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