Stop Cruel Dolphin Hunting Practices

Target: Helder Barbalho, Brazilian Minister of State for Fisheries and Aquaculture

Goal: Enforce existing ban on dolphin hunting in order to protect this critically endangered species.

Amazon river dolphins are experiencing a significant population decline due to hunting of these beautiful creatures for use as bait in commercial fishing. This cruel practice is causing the loss of these animals, much like the freshwater dolphins of China before them, who are now functionally extinct due to human activities. If these practices continue and the dolphins remain unprotected, soon there will be no freshwater dolphins left.

Two species of freshwater dolphin live in the Amazon River Basin: the boto and the tucuxi. Scientists in Brazil recently examined dolphin population surveys over the past 22 years and discovered that both species are approximately halving in population every ten years. Yet the International Union Conservation of Nature lists their conservation status as “Data Deficient.” If these scientists’ latest findings were taken into account, however, the conservation status for both species would likely be “Critically Endangered.” Scientists have examined every possibility for the cause of the dolphins’ decline, including commercial fishing, reduced food sources, river water quality impacts from mining or industry, and subsistence hunting. None of these appear to have caused this significant population loss, with the exception of commercial hunting.

The Brazilian government instituted a temporary ban on hunting these dolphins for use as bait, but this appears to be largely disregarded. Even with a hunting ban in place, these populations continue to decline due to illegal activities and their naturally slow reproduction rate. Females bear calves only once every four to five years, making population revival slow and difficult. Sign the petition to urge the Brazilian government to extend the existing dolphin hunting ban indefinitely and actually enforce it, before the Amazon river dolphins disappear as the Chinese river dolphins did.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Minister Barbalho,

Commercial fishing is significantly reducing the Amazon river dolphin populations. These freshwater dolphins are a unique treasure in the Amazon river basin, but they are cruelly being captured and used as bait by commercial fishermen. Although these dolphins are technically protected under the temporary hunting ban, it seems the ban is largely unheeded.

Researchers have estimated the dolphins’ population to be halving every ten years based on a recent study of surveys taken over the past 22 years. Despite a plethora of proof to the contrary, the International Union Conservation of Nature conservation status of the Amazon river dolphins remains “Data Deficient.” Human activities have already caused the Chinese river dolphins to become functionally extinct, and the Amazon river dolphin is not far behind. Scientist believe if the recent study were taken into account, that these dolphins would be listed as “Critically Endangered” and require far more protection than a temporary hunting ban.

Acknowledging the detrimental effects of commercial hunting by instituting the temporary ban on commercial hunting is an important first step in righting this wrong. However, this ban appears to be ineffective and is only temporary. The dolphin hunting ban needs to be vehemently enforced and indefinitely extended before these beautiful creatures disappear completely.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Michelle Bender

Protect the Amazon from Deforestation

Target: Juwang Zhu, Director of the Division for Sustainable Development (DESA)

Goal: Amend Brazil’s new Forest Code to protect the Amazon.

The Amazon is in danger thanks to Brazil’s new Forest Code. The code, which was approved in the country’s Supreme Court recently, will have negative effects on the environment, as it places lax regulations around deforestation and does not protect the environment. In short, the new code, which replaces the 2012 code, puts economic interests above environmental protection. This new code is critical to Brazil’s future, as the Amazon nears a tipping point at which the forest will permanently become a savannah. This has implications for biodiversity, water supply, and climate change.

The new code was supported by an agribusiness lobby that ran propaganda in the news promoting ruralist interests and presenting them as scientific information. As a result, many parts of the code allow deforestation and development. An example is that deforesters who illegally cleared forest before 2008 will not be forced to pay the fines enforced on them. A member of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences claims that this new code regularizes deforestation and and holds nobody accountable.

Conservations are concerned that illegally deforested lands will not be reforested without strict enforcement. Others are doubting the country’s judicial system and its ability to deliberate on complex technical questions regarding deforestation, socio-environmental issues, and climate change. Although the new code recognized the consequences of deforestation and set a basis for future socio-environmental cases, the Supreme Court did not uphold the constitution when it came to protecting the environment. They are allowing development and deforestation to continue. Sign the petition below to urge the Director of the Division for Sustainable Development, which holds the Committee for Forestry, to urge Brazil to amend the new code and implement more pro-environment policies.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mr. Zhu,

In Brazil, a new code that replaced the 2012 Forest Code was approved recently. In it, it is obvious that the agribusiness and economic interests are favored over environmental protection. Farming on floodplains, urbanization projects, and no obligation to reforest illegally deforested areas are only a few of the policies deemed constitutional under the new code. Illegally deforested land may never be reforested again, as offenders are not being held accountable for their actions.

This new code is critical in Brazil’s history as the Amazon might reach its tipping point soon—the point at which the forest will turn into a savannah—causing extremely negative consequences. These consequences are tied to climate change, loss of biodiversity, and social and environmental issues. Without a voice to defend the environment, Brazil’s forests will continue to be cut down, with little hope of recovery.

As the Director of Sustainable Development and overseer of the Committee for Forestry, you are in a unique position to urge Brazil to amend the code. Although the code may now be the law of the land, perhaps they can set a precedent and amend a Supreme Court ruling if it means protecting the environment. I hope that you speak out against the new code and all the future consequences that will stem from it.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Josh Estey