A conflict of interest: IMATA’s double standard

Sep 24, 2015 by afdadmin
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IMATA trainer with a beluga whale

IMATA trainer with a beluga whale

Dolphin captivity is a contentious issue. While most of the protest surrounding the issue is aimed at aquariums and marine parks such as SeaWorld, and the associations that regulate these businesses (like WAZA), dolphin trainers must also be held accountable.

The world’s peak marine animal trainers’ body is the International Marine Animal Trainers’ Association (IMATA), which publicly states its dedication to advancing the handling and humane care of marine animals. IMATA claims it respects animals and is committed to conservation, but its main goal is to support the captivity and entertainment industry.

Unsurprisingly, these competing aims give rise to some serious double standards.

PLEASE take the time to email the President of IMATA NOW at [email protected], and tell them to keep their trainers away from these Taiji dolphins! If you are stuck for words, feel free to use the AFD template email by clicking here.

Drive hunts are perpetuated by organizations like IMATA

Drive hunts are perpetuated by organizations like IMATA

In 2005, IMATA released a statement saying, “IMATA strongly oppose the mass slaughter of whales and dolphins that occur in drive fisheries, and is dedicated to advancing humane care of marine animals in zoological settings.”

It goes on to specifically single out the drive hunts in Taiji, Japan, stressing that methods used by the hunters are “misguided” and “controversial”.

However, as IMATA elaborates on its position on drive fisheries, its stance becomes less clear. The association actually defends its member’s direct participation in the drive hunts, stating, “the practice is lawful in countries where IMATA members live and work.”

IMATA even goes so far as to shrug its shoulders and defend the horrific hunts and cruel acquisitions in Taiji, stating, “Japanese aquariums have no choice”.

Trainers capturing Taiji dolphins

Trainers capturing Taiji dolphins

For IMATA to argue it “strongly opposes” drive fisheries such as the one in Taiji, but then turn around and defend its members right to actively take part in the hunt in the very same statement showcases a massive conflict of interest.

This hypocritical double standard demonstrates that IMATA is not taking any responsibility for its members’ actions.

Six months ago, Australia for Dolphins pressured the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) about a similar double standard. Subsequently, the association made progressive moves towards making sure it practiced what it preached. With a little persuasion (and a legal action urging WAZA to stick to its animal welfare claims) WAZA eventually took action. As a result, its Japanese members are no longer allowed to purchase dolphins captured in the cruel Taiji drive hunts.

Now it’s IMATA’s turn to step up to the plate and become proactive.

For IMATA’s mission statement to have any meaning at all, it actually has to stick by its promises. That means doing the right thing by animals – NOT allowing its trainers to take part in one of the most unthinkable acts of animal cruelty in the world.

PLEASE take the time to email the President of IMATA NOW at [email protected], and tell them HANDS OFF TAIJI DOLPHINS! If you are stuck for words, feel free to use the AFD template email by clicking here.