A shocking proposal has come to light that would see endangered dolphins, orcas, and other marine mammals trafficked out of the coastal waters of Namibia and taken to China for lifetimes in captive misery.

The Namibian Fisheries Ministry is currently entertaining the proposal, which would see a Chinese-owned company, Welwitschia Aquatic and Wildlife Scientific Research, capture and export live animals to China for “breeding purposes.” The list of the company’s demands includes 10 orca; 500-1 000 Cape fur seals; 300-500 African penguins; 50-100 Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins; 50-100 common bottlenose dolphins; and various sharks.

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Unless the Namibian Government denies the permit, the Russian-flagged vessel named Ryazanovka  – reportedly owned by a Chinese company – will get the go-ahead for the most deadly capture of orcas, bottlenose dolphins, pinnipeds, and penguins in history. The ship reportedly sits in Walvis Bay port, in Namibia, far from its sordid history in Russian waters where it has occasionally captured marine mammals for sale to foreign companies.

Trafficking Wild Marine Animals

While the exact stats of the vessel are known, international maritime tracking organizations say that they have never received any position data from this vessel. This could mean that it is attempting to hide from international scrutiny – something that would make sense, from the Chinese owner’s vantage point, considering their plans.

Additionally, reports are being received indicating that the crew of the Ryazanovka is verbally abusing and threatening persons who get close to the vessel.

In a letter to the Namibian Fisheries Ministry, the International Marine Mammal Project (IMMP) alerted the Namibian Government that the permit application seeks to capture marine species that are poorly studied, threatened and potentially in decline. Many of the species identified, such as orcas, are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), making it illegal for any entity to capture and export them. Grating the permit would in no way, shape or form be appropriate scientifically, nor ethically.

The Namibian Government is still undecided as to whether it will allow the captures to move forward. The Fisheries Ministry has indicated that a decision will be made within the next few days.  The Chinese are also leveraging themselves by negotiating military bases in certain hotspot areas such as Namibia. Negotiations for such a proposed military base started with Namibia during 2014.

The Namibian Government should be aware that, if it grants the Chinese company this permit, they run the risk of seeing substantial impact on the tourism industry. This issue has now developed into an international incident that will continue to grow in size as more people become aware of what is being attempted.

There isn’t much time to try to turn the tide on this dangerous plan.

IMMP is calling on individuals and organizations to urgently email officials in the Namibian Government to deny the permit.

Please send emails to the following individuals:

Minister of Fisheries Bernhard Esau:

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[email protected]

Permanent Secretary Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources Dr. Moses.Maurihungirire: 

[email protected]

Hon. Minister of Environment and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta: 

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[email protected]

Permanent Secretary Ministry of Environment and Tourism Malan Lindeque:

[email protected]

IMMP is accepting donations that will be granted to grassroots organizations in Namibia who are working to prevent this situation.

For more information, please visit the International Marine Mammal Project’s website.

Image source: Christian Musat/Shutterstock