Australia: Extend Environmental Laws to Protect Birds

Target: Josh Frydenberg, Australia’s Minister for Energy and Environment

Goal: Demand Australia’s wildlife protection laws be extended to protect birds.

Several species of Australia’s birds are dangerously close to extinction, but the continent’s environmental laws are not protecting them. Despite the birds being listed as endangered, the laws feature several loopholes that have led to the steady decline of species such as Carnaby’s black cockatoo, the swift parrot and the southern black-throated finch. Additionally, birds native to the islands are not protected at all.

The biggest offender in exploiting these loopholes and exemptions is the logging industry, which cuts down thousands of trees every year. Habitat destruction is the chief culprit in the loss of these birds, and the loss of these species and the trees themselves damage the delicate ecosystem of the forests and the islands where these birds reside. Unfortunately, Australia’s minister for energy and environment has said that the existing act is “the best mechanism for the federal government to protect the most important and sensitive matters.”

We cannot let these birds disappear. The lives of these beautiful creatures are as valuable as any human’s, and the environmental and animal protection laws must reflect this. Sign this petition to demand the law be extended to protect these birds and their habitat.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Minister Frydenberg,

Australia’s current environmental protection laws do not extend to birds, of which several species are dangerously close to extinction due to the logging industry’s exploitation of various loopholes. Species such as the swift parrot and the southern black-throated finch are losing their homes every year, and their numbers decline more and more every day.

These birds are a vital part of Australia’s ecosystem, as are the trees in which they reside, and their loss will do great harm to the environment. Additionally, the lives of these birds are as valuable as that of any human. You must consent to changing the law to protect these species before they completely disappear. Australia’s government has failed them in the past, but there is still time to correct this and change their fate.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Dominic Sherony

Demand Fisherman Guilty of Torturing and Killing Innocent Seal Pup Pay Mandatory Fine

Target: Mark MacKenzie, Nova Scotia fisherman

Goal: Publicly apologize for abusing and killing innocent baby seal and immediately pay court-ordered fine.

An innocent baby seal was brutally murdered and now the men responsible must pay the consequences. Mark MacKenzie, the captain of a Nova Scotia fishing vessel, was ordered to pay a fine of $7,500 after he was captured with two other fishermen abusing and killing a seal pup. MacKenzie is also banned from fishing from January 1, 2019 until June 30, 2019. The ban is not starting immediately because the court wanted to suspend MacKenzie’s ability to fish during the most lucrative time for the groundfish fishery off Yarmouth. Prosecutor Alex Pink said of the punishment: “It is a significant penalty and a groundfish prohibition is significant as well. That could be thousands and thousands of dollars that that person will not be able to earn.”

The other two fishermen aboard MacKenzie’s vessel that were involved in the animal abuse were prosecuted as well. Jay Alexander Jenkins received a fine of $3,500. Brendon Douglas James Porter received a fine of $2,500. Although there was a trial scheduled for the charges in Yarmouth provincial court, all three pleaded guilty to a charge under the Fishery General Regulations relating to the release of incidental catch—a regulation that should have protected the seal pup.

The incident was caught on camera and a video of the fishermen tormenting the seal pup circulated on Facebook. This showed the men taunting and prodding the seal with a buoy and being kicked while the men laughed. One is heard making the suggestion to kill the seal while another speaks of getting a machete. Circulation of this video caused the incident to gain national attention last year. In the video, you can hear someone saying, “I want to play tug-of-war with him.” The video was obtained by the CBC and was eventually deleted.

However, before the video was taken out of circulation, public outcry began. Many people following the case commented on it via The Vanguard‘s, a local paper, Facebook page. There was praise for the judge as well as some people offering the opinion that the fishermen should have received stricter punishments. One woman wrote, “I believe they deserved a whole lot more than they got!” Another commented, “So amazing to see this good outcome! Animal abuse like this is never OK under any circumstance.”

The men legally have until December 18, 2018 to pay their fines. Sign this petition to urge Captain MacKenzie to publicly apologize for his actions and to pay his fine immediately.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Captain MacKenzie,

Last year you were involved in an instance of animal abuse that was caught on camera. The video of you and your two shipmates taunting and abusing a seal circulated on Facebook and led to criminal charges. As you know, under the Fishery General Regulations, you should have released the seal—unharmed—as an incidental catch. Your decision to instead mistreat and abuse this animal has led to a $7,500 fine. This case has very much played out in the public eye and, therefore, I urge you to publicly apologize for your despicable behavior and pay your fine immediately.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Ville Miettinen

Stop Murdering Elephants for UK Ivory

Target: Boris Johnson, Foreign Secretary of the UK

Goal: Follow through on leading the fight to shut down the ivory trade in the European Union.

Harriet Baldwin of the United Kingdom has promised that the UK will be leaders among European nations to end the ivory trade. She said that the UK would lead by example and described the issue as a “personal priority” for Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary. While speaking in Botswana at a conservation summit, Baldwin said: “The UK will lead by example. We will be shutting down our ivory trade. We will be working with the EU to do the same. That is something we can do irrespective of whether we are in the European Union or not.”

Between 2010-2015, the UK was the world’s leading legal ivory exporter. In October of 2017, the UK made good on public outcry to ban ivory, although there are still some significant exemptions. Now, the UK and France are joining together to call on the EU to ban the internal trade of raw, or newly carved, ivory. Currently, there are laws that ban the export of ivory, but that does not stop the production of it within countries. Many African nations want to see EU states go further in their policies to protect against the ivory trade.

This month, the presidents of Botswana, Uganda, and Gabon spearheaded a call for the EU to shut down domestic ivory markets, working toward a global ban and an end of the ivory trade. Tshekedi Khama, Botswana’s environmental minister, said: “If the EU gives us money to train rangers but still allows the exit of the trophies to the EU, that to me is a hypocrisy. Let’s stop the flowery approach that says: ‘I’ve ticked a box and I look good. I’ve given so much, but I’m still allowing you African range states to be challenged by poachers because I haven’t closed the European gates.” Essentially Khama’s argument states that if there is a market for ivory, poaching will continue regardless of measures taken to prevent it. The issue must be addressed at the source.

Sign this petition to urge Boris Johnson, foreign secretary of the UK, to make good on his promises to end the ivory trade in the UK and lead by example in the EU by working to remove exemptions on ivory trade and totally ban the trade of trophies in the UK.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Secretary Johnson,

Harriet Baldwin has said that ending the ivory trade in the UK is a personal priority of yours. Right now, dominant legislation in the EU prevents ivory products from being exported, subsequently preventing an international market for trophies. However, domestic markets still exist. In order for poaching to end, laws must be passed to stop all markets, both international and domestic.

I urge you to push for legislation that will ban ivory trade, without exemption, in the UK. This will set an example for the rest of the European Union and help prevent the unnecessary and cruel killing of elephants.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Tony Knight

Urge Norwegian Krill Fishing Company to Contribute to Antarctic Conservation

Target: Øyvind Eriksen, CEO of Aker ASA

Goal: Reduce krill fishing in Antarctica.

Antarctica, one of the world’s last great wild spaces, is being compromised as a result of industrial krill fishing. A Greenpeace study analyzed the movements of krill fishing vessels in the area and noted that the vessels are increasingly operating “in the immediate vicinity of penguin colonies and whale feeding grounds.” This means that the krill fishing vessels are adding human competition to the natural feeding cycle of these animals. The study also noted incidents of the krill fishing boats being involved in groundings, oil spills, and other accidents, which pose a serious threat to the Antarctic ecosystem.

Concern about the impact of fishing and climate change on the Antarctic ecosystem has led to a global campaign to create a network of ocean sanctuaries to protect the Antarctic seas. Furthermore, Greenpeace is calling for an immediate stop to fishing in areas that are labeled as sanctuaries. Frida Bengtsson, a representative for Greenpeace’s Protect the Arctic campaign, said: “If the krill industry wants to show it’s a responsible player, then it should be voluntarily getting out of any area which is being proposed as an ocean sanctuary, and should instead be backing the protection of these huge swaths of the Antarctic.”

Even though krill are very small organisms, they are the foundation of the Antarctic food chain. A combination of industrial krill fishing and climate change could have an adverse effect on the populations of larger predators. A study warned that in ten years’ time the penguin population could decrease by as much as one third as a result of changes in krill biomass.

There is a global demand for krill-based products, which are usually health products that claim to help a range of issues from heart disease and high blood pressure to strokes and depression. The krill industry is only expected to grow in the coming years. However, without any government in Antarctica, the responsibility for maintaining the ecosystem falls on all of the countries and companies involved in the industrial krill fishing industry. Since the 1970s, krill populations in Antarctica have declined by 80%. Unless changes are made, this decrease could continue and have adverse effects on the whole ecosystem. Sign this petition to urge Øyvind Eriksen, CEO of Aker ASA, to limit krill fishing in Antarctica and immediately stop krill fishing in sanctuary regions.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mr. Eriksen,

As the CEO of a company involved in offshore fishing operations, you know how quickly the industrial krill fishing industry is growing. New countries like China are getting involved and countries like South Korea, who have had small fishing operations, are growing their business in krill fishing. The demand for krill-based products is growing as word of its positive health benefits spreads.

However, krill are necessary for the Antarctic food chain and without a large amount of krill biomass, other animals will suffer as a result. The entire Antarctic ecosystem is at risk if large companies like yours do not take a stand to protect it. I urge you to immediately stop fishing in sanctuary zones and to limit fishing in Antarctica to protect these fragile ecosystems.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Leonora (Ellie) Enking

Praise Indonesia for Protecting Endangered Species

Target: Siti Nurbaya Bakar, Minister of Environment and Forestry, Indonesia

Goal: Praise efforts to stop wildlife crimes and help protect endangered species.

A council court in Indonesia sentenced two slow loris traders to three and a half years in prison and fined them $7,620, a historical ruling which will help deter wildlife crimes. In the past, illegal slow loris traders were sentenced to only 3-12 months even if they were caught with dozens of slow lorises, an endangered species, in their possession. This severe punishment will help send a message to the media and the public about the seriousness of wildlife crimes and will, ideally, help deter them in the future.

The two defendants were arrested in September, 2017 by the West Sumatra Quick Reaction Forest Police Unit of the Law Enforcement Department of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry Sumatra Region. In their possession were nine caged Sumatran slow lorises, to be sold off on the streets or in illegal animal markets. Their teeth are usually clipped to make them easier to handle, making them susceptible to death from infection or blood loss before they reach the market. They are sold as pets, which is a craze fueled by YouTube videos portraying them as cute and cuddly.

Slow lorises are in danger of becoming extinct, and they belong in the wild, not in the hands of animal poachers or in homes. The collaboration between the Indonesian Department of Environment and the public courts to uphold severe punishments for wildlife crimes is helping deter future crimes. Sending a message that illegal trading is punishable up to the maximum penalty is the first step in protecting and conserving wildlife in Indonesia. Sign the petition below to thank the Ministry of Environment and Forestry for their efforts.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Minister Bakar,

An Indonesian council court and the Ministry of Environment and Forestry worked together to sentence two slow loris traders to the maximum penalty of three and half years in prison and a fine of $7,260. This harsh sentence sends out a message that wildlife crimes are punishable by maximum penalties. For the endangered slow loris, this is a momentous ruling, as these animals are caught and sold in illegal animal markets to be kept as pets. Prior to being sold, their teeth are clipped, making them vulnerable to infection and blood loss.

While the average sentence for illegal slow loris traders used to be 3-12 months, even with substantial evidence against them, this recent trial shows that the government is serious about wildlife crimes. If a trader is found guilty of intentionally saving, collecting, pet-keeping, and trading live protected wildlife, they are subject to maximum penalties. I want to thank you for leading the Ministry in helping ensure that protected animals in Indonesia are kept safe. I hope that you continue to enforce the rules and regulations to increase public awareness about protecting and conserving wildlife.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Michael Whitehead

Shut Down the Kangaroo Meat Industry

Target: The Honorable Malcolm Turnbull, Prime Minister of Australia

Goal: Put an end to the kangaroo meat industry to save the species.

Kangaroos are heavily endangered, and a recent documentary has shown that this is largely in part due to the species being hunted for their meat. The grisly and shocking film exposed the harsh realities of the kangaroo meat industry, most notably the cruel methods used by slaughterhouses. Those who praised the documentary have pointed out the hypocrisy: those who clamor for better treatment of cows and chickens turn a blind eye to the plight of the kangaroo.

It is clear that the conditions in slaughterhouses are only part of the problem, however. The steady decline in kangaroos over the years due to poaching and environmental factors, plus the inhumane slaughter methods, are proof that the kangaroo meat industry is becoming more trouble than it is worth. With the loss of habitat and the species barely able to breed and keep their numbers stable, the constant poaching will render the kangaroo extinct in a matter of years.

We cannot let Australia’s iconic mascot disappear. We must ensure the kangaroo’s survival, and putting an end to the inhumane meat industry is the first step. Sign this petition to stop the poaching and slaughter of kangaroos.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Prime Minister Turnbull,

A recent documentary has exposed the harsh realities of the kangaroo meat trade, most notably the conditions and methods in the slaughterhouses. The kangaroo has recently been declared a highly endangered species overall, due to environmental factors and loss of habitat, but mostly due to poaching of the animals for their meat.

The decline of the species coupled with the cruelty of the slaughterhouses equal a toxic industry that must be shut down. Kangaroos are denied the chance to rebuild their numbers as they are hunted down, and the species could disappear completely in a matter of years if this practice is not stopped. You must ban the hunting and killing of kangaroos and shut down the meat industry as soon as possible. The lives of living creatures are worth far more than the monetary gain of their meat sales.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Matthew Wakefield

Save the Yucatecan Flamingos from Extinction

Target: Rafael Pacchiano Alamán, Secretariat of the Environment and Natural Resources, Mexico

Goal: Save the Yucatecan flamingos from extinction and end threats to their natural habitats.

The Yucatan area of Mexico is one rich with over 40 bird species, including pelicans and flamingos. However, now these species are under attack and facing possible extinction. Actions must be taken now to protect these rare birds.

Tourists come from all over the world to see thousands of pink flamingos in Mexico’s Yucatan. However, human activity is destroying their habitats, robbing the area of these birds. Pollution and construction destroy the flamingos’ homes and food sources, making it hard for this species to sustain itself.

The nation of Mexico is educating its citizens and teaching them about the dangers facing the flamingos and other birds. However, more must be done to protect the species. Sign the petition to demand that the Yucatecan flamingo be added to a list of endangered species so it can be protected and preserved for generations to come.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Secretary Alamán,

Tourists from all over the world travel to the Yucatan Peninsula to see the thousands of local and migratory birds that call this location home. One of the most famous bird species is the Yucatecan flamingo. However, this species and others like it are facing possible extinction due to human activity. Pollution and land clearing are robbing the animal of its habitat and food sources.

While the nation is taking serious steps to educate the public about the dangers facing the flamingos, more must be done. I demand that the Yucatecan flamingo be added to a list of endangered species so it can be better protected and preserved.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Katja Schulz

Punish Tycoon Accused of Killing and Eating Endangered Leopard

Target: Khemchai Chutiwong, Attorney General of Thailand

Goal: Punish tycoon accused of killing and eating leopard in a protected forest.

An endangered leopard was allegedly killed and made into soup by CEO Premchai Karnasuta and his associates while they camped illegally in the Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary. In addition to the unfortunate leopard, at least nine animals were reportedly shot and killed, presumably for sport or for other meals. Karnasuta was arrested, but sources say he has been bribing officials after being released on bail.

There is great concern that Karnasuta will use his money and government connections to buy his way out of facing justice. Many businessmen or wealthy politicians have done so in the past, from bribing the courts to threatening blackmail, at the expense of their victims. Furthermore, the leopard he reportedly killed and made into a meal was a legally protected and highly endangered species; Karnasuta’s alleged actions have set the species back further in efforts to repopulate.

An elderly couple was once sentenced to 15 years in jail for merely picking mushrooms in Thungyai Naresuan. If there is any justice in this world, Karnasuta must be tried under the same laws. This leopard and her companions’ deaths must not be in vain. Sign this petition to ensure justice is served for Karnasuta and his associates.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Attorney General Chutiwong,

Wealthy businessman Premchai Karnasuta and his associates allegedly killed nine creatures while camping in the Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary, most notably an endangered leopard who was later made into soup. Karnasuta allegedly bribed officials once released from jail on bail, and there is a serious concern that he will bribe the courts as well in order to escape punishment.

You must not allow this. An elderly couple was once sentenced to 15 years of jail time for merely picking mushrooms in this same forest, and the laws should apply to everyone, not just the working class. Karnasuta must be brought to justice, regardless of his connections or wealth. This leopard’s death must not be in vain, and this man must serve as an example to anyone else who may try such a stunt in the future.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Tambako The Jaguar

Stop Killing of Jaguars for Construction

Target: Xi Jinping, President of China

Goal: Stop China’s use of endangered jaguars’ body parts for their construction projects.

The South American jaguar population is on a rapid decline, and Chinese construction projects have just been uncovered as the main reason. Endangered animal parts such as bones, fangs, and skins have been in high demand in China due to their alleged medicinal properties, particularly the organs of the jaguar and other big cats. Over 100 jaguars have been killed in less than a year to provide these parts.

We cannot let this continue. Not only is the trade and use of animal body parts unethical and technically illegal, the loss of any species is detrimental to the ecosystem. Jaguars are beautiful and graceful animals who have already been facing endangerment for years, and now they could disappear completely thanks to these projects. Worse, South America is enabling the loss of this species via an illegal trade route to China, providing them with the parts they claim to need.

In order to stop the illegal trade of jaguar body parts and save the species, we must attack the root of the problem. Sign this petition to demand China stop their purchase of jaguar parts and revise their construction plans to be more ethical and environmentally friendly.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear President Xi,

Construction projects in China are the root of the near-extinction of South America’s jaguar population. Construction workers are purchasing the skin, bones, and fangs of jaguars through an illegal trade route, claiming the need for the parts’ medicinal properties. This is both unethical and dangerous, as the loss of the species will damage South America’s ecosystem.

You must call for a ban on the purchase of jaguar parts immediately. Jaguars deserve better than to be killed and chopped up for parts, especially parts whose medicinal properties may very well just be a myth. Furthermore, these projects must be revised to comply with environmental protection standards overall. Animals should not have to die for progress and development.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: cmart29

Make Access to Healthy Environment a Human Right

Target: Erik Solheim, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Program

Goal: Support framework that would help defend environmentalists, not criminalize them.

John Knox, a rapporteur on human rights and the environment for the UN, is pushing to make the right to a healthy environment a human right. Environmentalists are targeted for defending the environment and vulnerable communities. Even more so in recent years, conservationists have been kidnapped, arrested, prosecuted, and outcasted for their work. Big business and those who have big stakes in natural resources such as land often target environmentalists who oppose their agenda. Last year, 197 environmentalists were murdered, according to Global Witness, a monitoring group.

However, the UN and other nations are showing support for the environment and its allies. The UN is currently scaling up training for judges, prosecutors, and police in environmental law. They also encourage them to work with companies who invest in human rights. Although environmental rights are still yet to be recognized in many nations, Knox is pushing for a UN resolution, which includes a policy framework to help support environmentalists and not criminalize them. His first policy is that states should ensure a safe, clean, and healthy environment that respects, protects, and fulfills human rights. His understanding of human and environmental rights allows him to see the connection between the two spheres.

Furthermore, he is pushing for support for vulnerable groups and acknowledgement of the role of business and governments in environmental and human rights.

Environmental rights are deeply intertwined with human rights. Often, those who cannot defend their own land and resources (water, food, air) suffer from exploitation. Knox’s ideas to implement a policy framework to support environmentalists and for the UN to recognize a healthy environment as a human right will help protect vulnerable communities and environmentalists. Sign the petition below to urge the UN to implement this framework.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mr. Solheim,

The UN Environment Program is committed to improving the quality of life and environment for people without compromising that of future generations. In order to ensure quality of life for future generations, we must recognize that a healthy environment is a human right. Many groups and communities are vulnerable to environmental exploitation, for example through land grabs, illegal development, and development that promotes pollution. John Knox, the rapporteur on human rights and the environment, is proposing that a policy framework be put into place to help protect environmentalists and to also recognize a healthy environment as a human right.

Although the UN is committed to making sure that judges, police, and prosecutors are receiving more training in environmental law, we must extend this consideration to environmentalists and conservationists. Often, they are criminalized, but they are the ones who champion human and environmental rights when authorities and other groups do not.

Environmental health is closely linked to human health. People living in terrible conditions, ingesting polluted waters, inhaling polluted air, and having no access to natural resources, have their human rights revoked. They can no longer live in with dignity when they have no access to a healthy, clean environment. I urge you to push the UN to consider environmental rights as human rights and promote the policy framework to support environmentalists.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Osakabe Yasuo