Protect the oceans: stop industrial fish farms, octopus farms and whaling
Thanks to an initiative by the Party for the Animals, the European Parliament calls on Iceland, Norway, Japan, and the Faroe Islands to stop the whale and dolphin hunt once and for all. On World Animal Day, MEP Anja Hazekamp also drew attention to the suffering of fish and the ecological devastation caused by fish farms: “Seas and oceans are essential to life on earth. Fish farms are the factory farms of the underwater world. The Party for the Animals wants to prevent making the same mistakes we did with the livestock industry.”
In the past decades, the worldwide demand for fish has grown. Industrial fish farms have more than quintupled, with disastrous consequences for humans, animals, and the environment, Anja Hazekamp states. Although farmed fish is heralded by some as the future-proof alternative to the overfishing of natural fish populations, that is a misrepresentation of facts, according to her and a large number of scientists. Industrial fish farming, both on land as well as in the sea, causes untold animal suffering, leaches antibiotics and animal excrements into the environment, causes outbreaks of disease, and still causes the overfishing of wild fish populations.
“The African coastline is literally being depleted to provide fish farms in Europe and elsewhere with fish meal”, says Anja Hazekamp. “To raise one salmon in such a farm, one needs 350 wild-caught fish.” That there are still MEPs who plead for a strong increase of the number of fish farms in Europe is unthinkable as far as the Party for the Animals is concerned. “Seas and oceans are essential to life on earth. Nevertheless, we use the oceans as our garbage dumps, hunting grounds, and industrial zones.”
Plans for the large-scale breeding of octopuses for the food industry have also gotten tough criticism from scientists and animal and environmental organisations. The Spanish animal rights party PACMA and its sister parties have organised various protests against this, and are trying to prevent the first industrial octopus farm in the world from being opened in Spain through legal means.
Stop the whale hunt, for animals and the climate
When it comes to whaling, the Party for the Animals was successful last Thursday in the European Parliament. At the party’s urging, the parliament adopted a resolution in which it calls on Iceland to abandon whaling once and for all. After a ‘break’ of four years, Iceland resumed the whale hunt this year. The permit for Icelandic whalers ends in 2023, and the government of Iceland is doubting whether or not to issue a follow-up permit. If it is up to a majority of the European Parliament, they ought not to. The other countries that still hunt for whales - Norway, Japan and the Faroe Islands - are urged to stop whaling as well.
“Whaling is cruel and irresponsible. Whales and their excrements are crucial to the ecosystem and essential in the fight against climate change”, MEP Anja Hazekamp says. “If whale populations were to recover to their pre-whaling size, those populations would capsure hundreds of millions of tonnes of CO2 each year. That is comparable to 2 billion full-grown trees.”
International ocean policies need to be better
The adopted resolution also calls for more sustainable international ocean policies. The European Parliament wants the EU to lead the way during the upcoming UN Climate Summit in Egypt and at the UN Biodiversity Conference in Canada. Last year, the European Parliament already voted in favour of plans to declare one third of all oceans and seas protected territory. Now, besides a ban on trawling in areas where the seabed is carbon-rich, the parliament also wants an ambitious international protection treaty for the ‘high seas’: the international waters that make up 64% of all oceans worldwide.
“To protect marine life, it is absolutely necessary to guard the protection of biodiversity outside of our own national borders”, says Anja Hazekamp. She finished her contribution with a phrase that has by now become a tradition: “Lastly, I am of the opinion that European agricultural and fishing subsidies have to be abolished.”