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JCC India's government: Dolphins are legal persons, with rights to life and liberty

Discussion in 'Community' started by Ghost, Nov 2, 2013.

  1. Ghost

    Ghost Chosen One star 7

    Oct 13, 2003
    This is from a few months ago, but this seems unprecedented in the world to actually give them rights as legal persons (and not just protections). I wonder why it wasn't given more attention?

    Dolphins gain unprecedented protection in India

    India has officially recognized dolphins as non-human persons, whose rights to life and liberty must be respected. Dolphin parks that were being built across the country will instead be shut down.
    India's Ministry of Environment and Forests has advised state governments to ban dolphinariums and other commercial entertainment that involves the capture and confinement of cetacean species such as orcas and bottlenose dolphins. In a statement, the government said research had clearly established cetaceans are highly intelligent and sensitive, and that dolphins "should be seen as 'non-human persons' and as such should have their own specific rights."

    The move comes after weeks of protest against a dolphin park in the state of Kerala and several other marine mammal entertainment facilities which were to be built this year. Animal welfare advocates welcomed the decision.

    "This opens up a whole new discourse of ethics in the animal protection movement in India," said Puja Mitra from the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organizations (FIAPO). Mitra is a leading voice in the Indian movement to end dolphin captivity.
    [​IMG] Indian officials say it is morally unacceptable to exploit cetaceans in commercial entertainment

    "The scientific evidence we provided during the campaign talked about cetacean intelligence and introduced the concept of non-human persons," she said in an interview with DW.

    India is the fourth country in the world to ban the capture and import of cetaceans for the purpose of commercial entertainment - along with Costa Rica, Hungary, and Chile.

    Dolphins are persons, not performers

    The movement to recognize whale and dolphins as individuals with self-awareness and a set of rights gained momentum three years ago in Helsinki, Finland when scientists and ethicists drafted a Declaration of Rights for Cetaceans. "We affirm that all cetaceans as persons have the right to life, liberty and well-being," they wrote.
    [​IMG] Dolphins are naturally playful and curious, which has made them popular with aquarium visitors

    The signatories included leading marine scientist Lori Marino who produced evidence that cetaceans have large, complex brains especially in areas involved in communication and cognition. Her work has shown that dolphins have a level of self-awareness similar to that of human beings. Dolphins can recognize their own reflection, use tools and understand abstract concepts. They develop unique signature whistles allowing friends and family members to recognize them, similar to the way human beings use names.

    "They share intimate, close bonds with their family groups. They have their own culture, their own hunting practices - even variations in the way they communicate," said FIAPO's Puja Mitra.

    But it is precisely this ability to learn tricks and charm audiences that have made whales and dolphins a favorite in aquatic entertainment programs around the world.

    Seaworld slaughter

    Disposable personal income has increased in India and there is a growing market for entertainment.

    Dolphin park proposals were being considered in Delhi, Kochi and Mumbai.
    [​IMG] India's growing middle class is hungry for entertainment

    "There's nothing like having a few animals on display, particularly ones that are so sensitive and intelligent as these dolphins," said Belinda Wright from the Wildlife Protection Society of India in an interview with DW. "It's a good money making proposition."

    But audiences are usually oblivious to the documented suffering of these marine performers.

    "The majority of dolphins and whales in captivity have been sourced through wild captures in Japan, in Taiji, in the Caribbean, in the Solomon Islands and parts of Russia. These captures are very violent," Mitra explained.

    "They drive groups of dolphins into shallow bay areas where young females whose bodies are unmarked and are thought to be suitable for display are removed. The rest are often slaughtered."

    Mitra argued that the experience of captivity is tantamount to torture. She explained that orcas and other dolphins navigate by using sonar signals, but in tanks, the reverberations bounce off the walls, causing them "immense distress". She described dolphins banging their heads on the walls and orcas wearing away their teeth as they pull at bars and bite walls.

    Tanks terminated

    In response to the new ban, the Greater Cochin Development Authority (CGDA) told DW that it has withdrawn licenses for a dolphin park in the city of Kochi, where there have been massive animal rights demonstrations in recent months.
    [​IMG] Will the ban on captive dolphin exploitation lead to more protection for other highly intelligent non-humans?

    "It is illegal now," said N. Venugopal, who heads the CGDA. "It is over. We will not allow it anymore."
    He said the government hadn't lost money on the development but declined to comment on how much the dolphin park was worth.

    Boost for Ganges River dolphin

    It's possible that India's new ban on cetacean captivity will lead to renewed interest in protecting the country's own Ganges River dolphin.

    "I hope this will put some energy into India's Action Plan for the Gangetic Dolphin, which is supposed to run until 2020," said Belinda Wright from the Wildlife Protection Society of India. "But there's been very little action.

    She said the ban was a good first stop, but warned against excessive optimism. "I'm very proud that India has done this," she said. "I'm not trying to be cynical but I have been a conservationist in India for four decades. One gets thrilled with the wording, but I don't think it's going to turn to the tables."

    "But dolphins for now are safe from dolphinariums, and that's a good thing," she added.

    I also remember hearing about an underwater translation machine for interaction with dolphins, from a few years ago:

    So, what do you think about cetaceans (or other non-humans) becoming recognized as persons, and gaining the legal rights that come with that?
  2. Zapdos

    Zapdos Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Jan 7, 2013
  3. Darth Guy

    Darth Guy Chosen One star 10

    Aug 16, 2002
    I'm not sure about the details of "non-human persons," but I absolutely support banning the captivity of cetaceans.
    SithLordDarthRichie likes this.
  4. Todd the Jedi

    Todd the Jedi Mod and Soliloquist of SWTV star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Oct 16, 2008
    What happened to Summer Dreamer? :(
  5. GenAntilles

    GenAntilles Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Jul 24, 2007
    Maybe one day a dolphin can become Prime Minister...
  6. I Are The Internets

    I Are The Internets Force Ghost star 8

    Nov 20, 2012
  7. Alpha-Red

    Alpha-Red Jedi Grand Master star 6

    Apr 25, 2004
    So does this put dolphins above cows? Or are cows already legal persons?
    Aytee-Aytee likes this.
  8. Violent Violet Menace

    Violent Violet Menace JCC Ravager star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Aug 11, 2004
    Yeah, what's up with that?
  9. Lord Vivec

    Lord Vivec Chosen One star 8

    Apr 17, 2006
  10. Ramza

    Ramza Administrator Emeritus star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA VIP

    Jul 13, 2008
    Winter is coming.
    Jarren_Lee-Saber and Juliet316 like this.
  11. Jabba-wocky

    Jabba-wocky Chosen One star 9

    May 4, 2003
    As Even and GenAntilles said, it is certainly nice that they moved to curb the abuse that happens in entertainment venues. Having said that, this was a ridiculous and over-stated way of doing so.
    Jarren_Lee-Saber likes this.
  12. Aytee-Aytee

    Aytee-Aytee Jedi Master star 5

    Jul 20, 2008
    That was the first thing that popped into my mind as well. Where would sea mammals rate on the grand scale of karmic reincarnation?
    Jarren_Lee-Saber likes this.
  13. I Are The Internets

    I Are The Internets Force Ghost star 8

    Nov 20, 2012
    He died and became a Ghost obviously.

  14. Saintheart

    Saintheart Jedi Grand Master star 6

    Dec 16, 2000

    Any day now.
    Rogue1-and-a-half likes this.
  15. VadersLaMent

    VadersLaMent Chosen One star 10

    Apr 3, 2002
    This is probably just part of the gay agenda.
  16. Obi-Zahn Kenobi

    Obi-Zahn Kenobi Jedi Grand Master star 7

    Aug 23, 1999
    I find myself feeling rather happy at this decision. I am glad that a major world government has shown the open-mindedness to declare other species to be capable of being persons, rather than the homocentric views that most governments possess.

    At the same time, should we then attempt to hold accountable those dolphins who visit unspeakable atrocities upon others? Rape is disturbingly common among them, and they attack and torture others (fellow dolphins, porpoise), even murdering then for fun.

    The real question is, are dolphins varelse or raman. And more importantly, which are we?

    I used my phone.
  17. Alpha-Red

    Alpha-Red Jedi Grand Master star 6

    Apr 25, 2004
    Well that's kind of a moot point, considering we have no way of enforcing dolphin behavior in the vastness of the oceans even if we wanted to.
  18. VadersLaMent

    VadersLaMent Chosen One star 10

    Apr 3, 2002
    So dolphins = corporations.
    Alpha-Red likes this.
  19. Rogue1-and-a-half

    Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece star 8 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Nov 2, 2000
    After seeing Blackfish, I find myself very invested in making the lives of these intelligent creatures significantly less horrible. This seems like a bit of an overreach on India's part, but at least they're doing something.
    Lazy Storm Trooper likes this.
  20. Saintheart

    Saintheart Jedi Grand Master star 6

    Dec 16, 2000
    Wait a minute, what does Brynden Tully have to do with politics on the subcontinent?
  21. Saintheart

    Saintheart Jedi Grand Master star 6

    Dec 16, 2000
    And also, because nobody else has said it yet:

    Juliet316 likes this.
  22. yankee8255

    yankee8255 Jedi Grand Master star 6

    May 31, 2005
    Does this mean female dolphins can now expect to be gang raped like their human counterparts?
  23. SithLordDarthRichie

    SithLordDarthRichie CR Emeritus: London star 8

    Oct 3, 2003
    Such protection as this should also be afforded to Apes, especially given they are related to us.
  24. I Are The Internets

    I Are The Internets Force Ghost star 8

    Nov 20, 2012
    Fish are friends not food!
  25. Alpha-Red

    Alpha-Red Jedi Grand Master star 6

    Apr 25, 2004