October 26, 2019
The famous oceanographer Jean Michael Cousteau again appealed to the Russian government on the issue of the “whale jail” and the decision made on the urgent release of 50 belugas.
“We are pleased to see that the Russian Government, the Scientific Consilium, and VNIRO continue their efforts to release all the cetaceans held in captivity in Srednyaya Bay before the close of navigation season. Releasing the cetaceans is the best outcome for the welfare of the cetaceans themselves. To date, 10 orcas and 37 belugas have been released, meaning that 50 belugas must still be released. We understand that the Scientific Consilium recommends releasing the belugas in the area of Uspeniya Bay, near Lazovsky Nature Preserve.
This outcome is not ideal for the belugas, since this is not their normal habitat or the area where they were captured. Nonetheless, we trust the intention of Russian government authorities to release the belugas, despite limitations due to the availability of ships, inadequate finances, and weather conditions.
We believe it is very important and call on the Russian government to carry out short- and long-term monitoring of the activity of the 50 belugas after their release; we hope that the location will make it possible to carry out regular visual monitoring of the belugas for a full 30 days after release and actively over the first six months after release. We also hope that visual monitoring will help reduce concerns about threats from North Korean fishing vessels that we understand are poaching in the area and that the Russian government will do what is necessary to protect the belugas from repeat capture. We also ask the Russian government to include independent Russian observers on both ships conducting the release and to publicize photo- and video-documentation of the beluga release as soon as possible after the release.”
The coalition thanks Jean-Michel and supports the call of the oceanologist.