Worldlog Week 16 – 2010
Good news for whales! During a debate in the Lower House, we received wide support for our proposals to accord protected status to all species of whale. This debate also considered the transhipment of illegally caught whale meat through the Netherlands. The Party for the Animals called for a stop to this practice and the Netherlands being used to facilitate these transhipments. Here, too, we were supported by a majority in the Lower House.
The International Whaling Commission (IWC), the international consultative body for protecting whales and regulating the whale hunt, currently only protects 13 of the 85 species of whale. The Party for the Animals asked Minister Verburg of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality to make out a case to expand the sphere of action of the IWC to cover all species of cetacean. Thus far Minister Verburg seems willing to heed this call. The IWC will be holding a conference in Morocco in June to reach agreements on limiting the whale hunt.
A compromise currently being proposed by the IWC on the whale hunt is finding little support among both whale protectors and hunters. I am also angry about the proposal that would allow Japan, Norway and Iceland to hunt whales over the next ten years. The IWC has been in a quandary for years because these three countries have making use of loopholes in the worldwide ban on whale hunting since 1986. Under the proposed compromise, the number of animals that may be killed is substantially lower than what the whale-hunting countries themselves would like to harvest.
Whale near Antarctica from Sphotos.nl
The Dutch news website nu.nl published a sound argument for stopping the whale hunt: whale excrement counters global warming. According to the Australian Antarctic Division, whale excrement functions extremely well as an absorber of CO2 on the surface of the oceans. The researchers indicate that whale excrement contains ten times as much iron as water, and plant life thrives on iron. Algae that lives between the plants on the surface of the water convert carbon dioxide into oxygen. Whales could actually become a key factor in the efforts to counter global warming!
This week we heard the news that the Dutch pig-breeding industry cost the country € 1.5 billion in social costs in 2008. The Environmental Issues Institute of the VU Amsterdam University was commissioned by the Nicolaas. G. Pierson Foundation (the scientific bureau of the Party for the Animals) to calculate the actual price of meat when all social costs are included.
This study again shows that the retail price rarely reflects the actual costs that are incurred in getting the product onto supermarket shelves. If these costs were included in the retail price, consumers would find themselves paying more for their groceries and would consequently avoid purchasing these harmful – and pricier – products. The Party for the Animals therefore wants to implement a ‘meat tax’ that would subject meat produced by factory farms to the higher VAT rate of 19% and exempt biological products entirely from taxation.
Finally, I would like to inform you that I am happy that the Lower House has agreed to the proposal by Mr. Waalkens (Netherlands Labour Party) and Mr. Ormel (Christian Democrats) to introduce tougher sentences for animal abuse and to impose an operational period of 10 years. However, we don’t think this proposal goes far enough and we want people convicted of animal abuse to be subject to a lifelong ban on keeping animals and we want the General Inspection Service to be better staffed. Unfortunately, Ormel did not consider a lifelong ban necessary.
Until next week!