Worldlog Week 11 – 2010

19 מרץ 2010

The Dutch government has set the polar bear out in the cold. The Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (LNV) Gerda Verburg voted during this week's CITES-conference against a proposal to forbid commercial trade in polar bear pelts, claws and teeth. The Party for the Animals, with the majority support from the Lower House, gave Minister Verburg the task of stiffening her backbone in an EU context for a ban on commercial polar bear trade. Minister Verburg is not only further endangering the polar bear, but is also blindly ignoring parliament's will.

The Party for the Animals submitted the motion to not place the polar bear's existence, which is severely threatened by the melting of the ice caps, under any further pressure. The CITES conference is the location where 175 countries agree to limit the trade in endangered species. On Thursday it became clear that the proposition to afford the highest state of protection for the polar bear (Appendix I ) did not make it. Another new proposal, which would have realised the same result, was rejected out of hand partially through the agency of the Dutch minister.

During the CITES conference the ban on catching the blue fin tuna, a species threatened by extinction, was also rejected. This was due to economic interests and all the other reasons we use to make this planet unliveable. One blue fin tuna brings in 80,000 Euro. Fishers and tradesmen are therefore snapping up the last few of them and freezing them, expecting the price to rise even further once the fish is (almost) extinct. For this reason the Party for the Animals has been fighting for years to get the blue fin tuna on the list of protected species within the CITES framework. At the end of 2009, a motion by the Party for the Animals was accepted urging the Dutch government to argue for a ban on catching the blue fin tuna in European waters.

The hunt for the blue fin tuna

On Wednesday we held an urgent debate about the Oostvadersplassen, a nature reserve in the province of Flevoland. Thirty years ago in this fenced off area, red deer, Konik horses and Heck cows flourished. The idea is to leave the animals in peace as much as possible. But there is also criticism for the situation in the Oostvaadersplassen. During harsh winters approximately 20% of the animals die of hunger. The terrible images shown on television help to shine the spotlight on a serious problem, but it must be solved with a timely intervention into the natural selection process.

This is why we have demanded in the Lower House that more manpower be channelled into the Staatsbosbeheer (Dutch National Forest Service), the body responsible for managing the Oostvaardersplassen, to make timely euthanasia possible for those animals that are assigned to death by the natural selection process. The Party for the Animals is in principle against euthanising animals, especially when it takes place inside a fenced-off area. Only the most important question now is whether people will accept that nature regulates itself or if humans need to intervene with the preventative measures of hunting and feeding. If you say that animals in the wild may never suffer from hunger, you need to convert nature reserves into deer and roe camps in which animals are fed, and when numbers become too great, animals are killed. The Party for the Animals does not choose this course of action. We do want for nature reserves in the Netherlands to be linked to each other to give the animals a change to migrate.

Esther Ouwehand and me on a working visit to the Oostvaardersplassen on 12 March 2010.

See you next week!