Archive for the ‘animal rights’ Category
Great opinion piece in today’s copy of The Age out of Melbourne. Worthwhile reading for anybody interested in biodiversity in Australia, old growth forests, or climate politics.
In a Government report based on threatened species studies at Brown Mountain conducted earlier this year, it is stated that ”neither DSE or VicForests routinely undertake pre-logging coupe surveys”.
Most of their information on threatened species comes from reports dating back to the early ’80s. This was at a time when we only just started to learn about species such as the long-footed potoroo and when management plans for endangered species simply did not exist.
Experts in their field produced these older reports, but the research areas were so large, and resources so limited, that many forests were not even surveyed. Brown Mountain is one of the areas that fell through the cracks.
Along with other forests at Ada River, Yalmy River, the upper Bonang catchment and the Bungywarr forests, the ecological values of these old-growth forests have simply never been documented.
Environment East Gippsland are taking VicForests – the corporate arm of logging regulation in Victoria – to court to try to force protection, rather than mere ‘consideration’ for endangered species and unique forests on Brown Mountain threatened by unnecessary logging.
Got to admit that I quite enjoyed Germaine Greer’s overtly pragmatic epitaph for Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin. As a virulent pissing contest engulfed Australian and global semi-celebria, with each successive politician and MTV host proclaiming greater and greater love and admiration for a bloke that many thought of as a bit of a dickhead, albeit a freshly dead one, Greer was the sole voice stating the obvious, namely
What Irwin never seemed to understand was that animals need space. The one lesson any conservationist must labour to drive home is that habitat loss is the principal cause of species loss. There was no habitat, no matter how fragile or finely balanced, that Irwin hesitated to barge into, trumpeting his wonder and amazement to the skies. There was not an animal he was not prepared to manhandle. Every creature he brandished at the camera was in distress.
Which is why it is baffling that she should now display a brilliant lack of intelligence, proclaiming that the highly fatal and destructive bushfires still tormenting Victoria were caused by authorities failing to burn off and a lack of bush clearing.
The simple fact is that the Victorian authority supposedly responsible for forest management, the ironically named Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE), are all about support for unsustainable forest practices. They more or less prostitute their taxpayer-funded services to the woodchip industry, which does nothing but clear bush – old bush, new bush, sick bush, healthy bush.
The DSE are in fact such vigorous fans of the hazard reduction techniques known as back-burning that it is barely eight years since ‘controlled burns’ they were overseeing (supposedly) did what fires do in the face of 30-knot winds, destroying roughly a million hectares of native forest. As a result, logging lobbyists secured a commitment from the Victorian government, enabling them to access massive stands of ancient forest, to make up for the volume of wood no longer able to be cut down for the simple reason that it had been turned to charcoal.
Far from adding what is usually a dissenting and radical voice to this particular discussion, Greer is simply, and ignorantly, piping the same shrill chorus soon to be sung by all the usual idiot lobbyists like Barry Chipman and anybody from Timber Communities Australia, the Institute of Public Affairs, the Liberal and National Parties, etc. Namely – that this tragedy wouldn’t have happened if conservationists hadn’t interfered with sound forest management practices.
Obviously, bushfires wouldn’t happen if humans could fight back by cutting down every bloody tree and killing every bloody native animal – a far cry from Greer’s anti-Irwin argument. Bloody human-hating Greenies f%&$ed us all again, they proclaim.
But the simple fact is that nature and forests can quite perfectly manage themselves, if just left alone long enough to functionally exist. The remaining areas of Victoria’s old growth forest – concentrated in and arounf the Otways and East Gippsland – still retain enough moisture to function not only as massive biodiversity store-houses, but as difficult-to-ignite fire buffers. Less human intervention, through irresponsible land clearing and corporate logging, is the answer, not the problem.
Greer would do better to understand this before firing one off on such a mishandled issue. She has done herself, myriad species, and all natural environments, not to mention the dead and damaged, a massive disservice with this fresh strand of vomit.
Better she had shut her mouth rather than emit it.
Sea Shepherd have just reported their first encounter of the “season”, locating a Japanese harpoon boat inside Australian waters off Antarctica. Obviously, some people will take the notion of ‘Australian waters’ off Antarctica to task. The economic exclusion zones off Antarctica are recognized by a relatively small number of nations, but they are also well established and well known to Japan, whose whaling fleet has been deemed to have a legal case to answer in Australia for killing whales there previously.
Will Peter Garrett break into his holidays (which began in November 2007) to register his official concern with the Japanese government, or, more strongly still, will he ask them to order their government-sponsored whaling fleet to stop breaking Australian law? Or, even strongerer (!? yeah, sure) will he go with the plan that he announced when he was simply trying to win votes and send Australian naval vessels to intercept returning whaling vessels and board them for the purpose of documenting evidence of their illegal whaling activities.
Time will tell, but don’t hold your breath. At most, it’s likely that he will aim to deliver 5% of a rebuff by 2020, with the possibility of demanding 15% of an apology if whales can be heard dying from marginal electorates.
From Sea Shepherd
Captain Paul Watson
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society ship Steve Irwin now has the entire Japanese whaling fleet on the run.
At 2345 G.M.T. the Steve Irwin intercepted the Japanese harpoon vessel Yusshin Maru #2 inside the Australian Antarctic Economic Exclusion Zone at 64°26 South and 132° 40’ East.
The encounter took place in dense fog and in dangerous ice conditions. The Steve Irwin launched a Delta boat with a crew to attack the Yusshin Maru #2 with rotten butter bombs. Unfortunately the wind increased to fifty knots with blizzard conditions. Captain Paul Watson called the small boat crew back for safety reasons when they were halfway to their target some three miles away.
The Yusshin Maru #2 then headed due North to lead the Steve Irwin away from the whaling fleet. The decoy did not work. The Steve Irwin is now in pursuit of the whaling fleet.
They have ceased whaling operations and they are now running from the Sea Shepherd crew.
The Yusshin Maru #2 was the same vessel that the Steve Irwin crew boarded in January 2007. This year the crew observed that the Yusshin Maru #2 has set up large netting to be run along the side of the ship to prevent boarding parties from going over the side. When the whalers realized that the Steve Irwin was onto them, they immediately ran on deck to deploy the netting.
“It looks like Whale Wars, season #2 is officially underway.” Said Captain Paul Watson. “We’ve got them on the run. They are not in the Ross Sea where they said they would be. They are in Australian waters. The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is officially calling on Australian Environment Minister Peter Garrett and Foreign Minister Stephen Smith to order the Japanese fleet to comply with the orders of the Australian Federal Court and to cease and desist from killing to whales in Australian waters.”
Captain Paul Watson
Master – The Steve Irwin
Master – The Farley Mowat
Founder and President of the
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.
News.com.au, The Australian, and their regional subsidiaries are currently carrying – or miscarrying – a story about free-range eggs. They all seem keen to emphasize that free-range eggs are a stale rip-off on a grand scale, and that the survey which has concluded as much is objective. The survey by consumer group Choice may well be ‘objective’ (whatever one may think of the value or merits of its assessment criteria), but it certainly doesn’t reflect the conclusions being loudly proclaimed by big, clumsy media.
proclaims The Australian. This assertion, by writer Tamara McLean, has of course been reprinted at News.com.au, Melbourne’s Herald-Sun, and likely the West Australian, Daily Telegraph, and other News Ltd (very) outlets across Australia. Even though it is uncredited, the article lifted from AAP and carried by Yahoo News! seems also to be McLean’s.
Strangely enough, Nathan Dukes at The Canberra Times and Daniella Miletic at Fairfax, when presented with the same survey by Choice, managed to get the story right. They focussed not only on the survey outcomes, but on the key issue relevant to the survey – that the definition of “free range” as it applies to Australian eggs, and consequently the hundreds of thousands of Australian chickens which produce them, is not only weak relative to European standards but cloudy in terms of Australian regulation and value to the consumer.
Choice clearly state that
We tested more than 650 eggs (all production systems) [ed: emphasis added], using an internationally recognised measure of egg freshness and quality called a Haugh unit (see How we tested, below).
There are no prescribed Australian standards but the US standard classifies eggs under 60 Haugh units as ‘weak and watery’ and we used this as our benchmark for freshness.
Of all the eggs we tested, 36 percent had Haugh units below 60…
This clearly states that looking at 650 samples of all types of eggs, 36% were found to be lacking in terms of freshness and quality. Tamara McLean, with the blessings of her editor, has managed to reinterpret this to mean:
A test of 650 free-range eggs by consumer group Choice returned a fail grade for 36 per cent of the products, branding them “weak and watery”.
Although she eventually states that regulation and standards are somewhat lacking or even voluntary in Australia, the News Ltd articles mainly feature cherry-picked quotes relating to the potential shortcomings of free-range eggs:
“Well over half the hens described as free-range are housed in huge sheds, may never go outside and their eggs may come off conveyor belts,” Mr Zinn [ed: Choice spokesman] said.
“If you’re buying free-range eggs because you believe in animal welfare, the brands in the big supermarkets may not be meeting your expectations.”
Ms McLean and Mr. Zinn aren’t trying to scare away your ethically spent dollar, but think it’s important for you to know that:
“[O]n average we found no significant differences between the freshness of barn-laid, cage and free-range eggs.”
Looking at the actual results, it would seem that Choice, if anything, has found that Pace Farms produce consistently mediocre eggs. Furthermore, only 7 of the 30 brands tested scored a 0-fail rate. 4 of these completely succesful brands –
- BOOST VEGETARIAN Cage (Brisbane)
- ESSENTIAL FOODS Free-Range (Melbourne)
- FAMILY HOMESTEAD Free-Range (Melbourne)
- FIELD FRESH Free-Range (Sydney)
- GOLDEN EGGS Barn-Laid (Perth)
- NATURE’S BEST Free-Range (Sydney)
- SUNNY QUEEN FARMS Barn-Laid (Brisbane)
were produced by Free-range methodology. Which, if anything, should produce an article with, perhaps, a ringing endorsement for free-range production methods. Despite the definite need for more rigorous regulation, definition, and enforcement, the methodology could easily be framed as at least 4 times more reliable than caged egg production… if the journalist or their master was inclined to do so.
Ever-reliable in such matters, The World Today has gone right past the fluff and got stuck into the heart of the matter:
JOHN STEWART: In the past animal welfare groups have waged successful campaigns, turning consumers against the tuna and pork industries. But it seems that chickens don’t have the same appeal as dolphins caught in fishing nets or images of bloated pigs and ham sandwiches.
But the signs are there that if free-range eggs do become cheaper, moral concerns for animal welfare may be less constrained by the hip pocket.
In a landmark ruling, the US Supreme Court today slashed the damages bill against Exxon for the 11 million gallons of oil their drunken captain poured into a pristine Alaskan ecosystem just 20 years ago. Deciding that “the people” – as in of the, by the, and for the – of the original jury were brain damaged for originally awarding $5 billion in punitive damages against the company, Justice David Souter today pissed mightily in the faces of victimized communities, environments, and species for generations to come.
He found that Exxon should only have to pay $500 million in punitive damages, seeing as the company had already paid $507 million in damages to directly compensate communities of Prince William Sound for economic losses.
$500 million totals about $15 000 for each of the 33 000 claimants, and 4 days worth of Exxon’s profits last year, Read the rest of this entry »
Following the welcome trend of reversing previous intransigence, the Australian Government has successfully floated a measure intended to heavily reduce, if not eliminate, Japan’s exploitation of “scientific research” as a justification for trying to kill close to one thousand whales annually.
During an international meeting at Heathrow during the first week of March, Australia found “a strong chord of support” for new Australian proposals to eliminate lethal research, according to a spokesperson for Environment Minister, Peter Garrett.
She rejected claims by the UK’s Independent that the meeting had somehow been secret, pointing out that it had received significant media coverage during the last week. She also flatly rejected the central claim of the article – that nations are moving to formalize approval of Japanese whaling – as selective quoting, misrepresentation, and a media beat-up.
Far from some sort of sinister new phase in negotiations, the central substance of the Independent’s claims regarding the nature of the meeting come from mentions made at the recent Heathrow meeting of a paper by the Pew Environmental Consultancy first tabled at a Tokyo meeting of the IWC in January.
She characterized the support for Australian proposals, voiced both formally and “at the margins” during the meeting, as a very pleasing result for both the Australian delegation and ongoing efforts to protect whales. Australia’s reforming proposals have now been accepted as formal items on the agenda of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) conference due to take place in Chile in June.
The measures would see concrete recovery plans established under the IWC. Supposedly scientific research would be subject to the IWC as a whole, rather than the standards determined appropriate by individual nations, as is currently the case with Japan’s program, sanctioned under their self-regulated JARPA II regime.
After more than a decade as a self-financed band of gypsies practicing random acts of canine survival, Monika’s Doggie Rescue became a fully registered charity in 2001. Now a network of over 300 volunteers, Doggie Rescue is reshaping its Sydney pawprint.
Speaking with Monika, she explained that their Drummoyne outlet, mainly used for weekend meetings between dogs and potential owners, has recently been dispensed with.
Increasingly, the refurbished Doggie Rescue website will play an important role for rescued dogs and their potential new families. People can look at online profiles of any of the hundred or more dogs housed at the Doggiewood compound at Ingleside. A half hour from the city, amidst scenic forests and the Northern Beaches, Doggiewood is already the main point of consolidation.
Fun, furry, pre-arranged happy petting sessions take place every Saturday at Pet Barn in Alexandria. This ongoing adoption program through Pet Barn provides an important physical gateway to potential inner city owners and foster homes.
Combined, these elements currently see Doggie Rescue place about a thousand dogs in new homes each year. But Monika’s real hope is for a change in the culture that produces abandoned animals.
Just last year, a small amendment to NSW law introduced a compulsory reporting mechanism for councils. As reported in late January, for the first time official figures confirmed that of close to 50 000 cats and dogs taken in by NSW pounds alone, nearly half were killed.
The Department of Local Government’s most recent figures also include the death rates from all other shelters, and indicate that over 60 000 cats and dogs were killed by the NSW system in 2007.
“We have an oversupply of animals because they get pumped out of impulse outlets,” said Monika. “And until people start thinking more about what they adopt when they take an animal – that it’s not just a disposable item – we’re just going to continue all these problems.”
In an effort to challenge this situation, Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore has been working to put the Animals (Regulation of Sale) Bill through state parliament. If she can build the necessary support, what began as a bumper sticker – ‘Say No to Animals in Pet Shops’ – could become law.
“Clover’s Bill,” said Monika, “really is the most crucial thing in trying to stave this awful production line, this breeding without very much care or nurturing.”
Monika described ‘the rescue cycle’. Similar to the cycle of homelessness facing many street kids, abandoned animals get dumped and re-dumped, usually ill-treated by more than just one home.
The proposed law, currently sidelined following a motion by Joe Tripodi, would end the sale of companion animals in pet stores. Sale would instead be restricted to breeders, shelters, vets, and pounds with a proviso that potential buyers are screened, educated, and matched to the needs of their new pet.
Monika’s Doggie Rescue already follows such a process. Perhaps uniquely, they also follow the progress of re-homed pets, requiring that mismatched pets be returned – an outcome that occurs in less than one per cent of cases according to Monika.
Doggie Rescue also provides a permanent backstop. In the event of an owner’s death, departure, or if it is at all needed, they offer permanent right of return for all dogs that come through their doors.
She lists her husband as the group’s biggest supporter who, along with Double Bay Vet Clinic and a number of private donors and supporters, makes it all possible. On the feeding, cleaning, caring, and financing rollercoaster, Monika’s ride has elements of Zen, Old Yeller, and Superfriends.
It is this environment which seems to produce the many Monika’s stories – one particularly sweet one being of a family that adopted a needy little dog with heart problems to keep their father company as he struggled with heart problems of his own.
Drop by www.doggierescue.com, Pet Barn Alexandria, or call Monika’s on 02 9486 3133 to find out more, or even see how you can help.