4 years ago

TROUBLED WATERS - Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society

TROUBLED WATERS - Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society

international state

international state practice or customary norm whereby animals that are slaughtered commercially for meat must not suffer at the time of death, must be rendered immediately insensible, and are required to be stunned or anaesthetized before killing (Gregory and Lowe 1999). Some of these laws have been in place for many years. Moreover, these laws are relatively consistent. In Gregory and Lowe’s 1999 study, 27 countries surveyed required instantaneous insensibility before death. In most cases, this required a ‘stunning’ process which when applied to an animal, caused immediate loss of consciousness that lasted until death 1 . Furthermore, most states specified the equipment to be used for stunning and further required that slaughter personnel were specially trained. Gregory’s research also demonstrated that regulations concerning slaughter were sometimes more stringent when the meat was exported than when it was consumed locally, indicating that, even when local standards are laxer than the international norm, a clear international norm is recognized. The World Organization for Animal Health or OIE (Office International Des Epizooties) is an intergovernmental organization set up under an international agreement on 25 January 1924, originally signed in Paris by 28 countries. By May 2001, the OIE had a total of 158 members. The OIE has recently adopted a resolution on animal welfare 2 . It has set up the Working Group on Animal Welfare to develop international standards for humane slaughter, transportation, and housing and management for animals used in agriculture and aquaculture. The European Union has also passed Community-wide legislation on the protection of animals, which includes mechanisms for safeguarding their welfare at the time of slaughter (EU 1993). These international and national legal developments in humane care for animals indicate that there is an emerging international customary norm regarding the slaughter of animals sold commercially as meat; and that, this practice may be sufficient to have become customary law. However, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) does not yet have specified rules governing the commercial slaughter of whales. An assessment of the welfare potential of livestock slaughter and whale killing methods Scientists have defined the term ‘suffering’ in animals to mean a “wide range of unpleasant emotional states” (Dawkins 1980) including fear, frustration and pain. ‘Pain’ has been defined as an aversive sensation and feeling associated with actual or potential tissue damage (Broom 2001, Iggo 1984). Physiological, behavioural and learning responses show that feelings of pain exist in many species (Broom 2001). An assessment of the welfare potential of a husbandry system or practice is increasingly used to evaluate different methods of keeping and handling food animals (e.g. Tansey & D’Silva 1999, CIWF Trust 2002, WSPA 2003). Major concerns for animal welfare arise from husbandry practices with low welfare potential i.e. those that fail to meet the behavioural and physical needs of the animal and thereby have the potential to cause pain or suffering. The welfare potential of any husbandry or slaughter practice is based upon the level to which it fulfils basic determinants of animal welfare. A determinant is a factor that is built into the system to influence its welfare impact. Examples of key determinants – building blocks of a good system – for the slaughter of farm animals include the use of appropriate equipment and an effective process to achieve an immediate pre-slaughter stun. Determinants should not be confused with welfare indicators. Indicators measure outcomes from the performance of a system. Examples of indicators A COMPARISON BETWEEN SLAUGHTERHOUSES AND METHODS USED DURING WHALING 93

94 A REVIEW OF THE WELFARE IMPLICATIONS OF MODERN WHALING ACTIVITIES include levels of premature mortality or lameness. Indicators can measure the overall performance of a system. However, the performance will be influenced by both the determinants built into the system, and the level of human management skill applied to it. In other words, determinants define the welfare potential of the system, and the human operators influence the level to which that potential is achieved. The classic example of a farming system with the potential for poor welfare is the battery cage for egg laying hens. The cramped and barren environment of the cage does not allow for all the birds’ physical and behavioural needs. The birds suffer as a result (Appleby, 1991). The restrictive nature of the battery cage is an inherent part of the system. The battery cage is therefore a system with low welfare potential. No matter how much stockmanship and care is applied to the birds in the system, their welfare is likely to remain poor. A free-range layer system, however – with its space and enriched environment – has a high welfare potential. If stockmanship levels are poor or neglectful, then the birds may suffer. Similarly, a badly designed unit could also negatively affect the birds’ welfare. However, as the problems are not an inherent part of the system, they can be adjusted or improved. Design or husbandry problems in these free-range-type systems can more effectively be addressed, allowing the full welfare potential of the system to be achieved. The same determinant-based methodology for assessing the welfare potential of a husbandry system can be applied to slaughter practices. The Farm Animal Welfare Council, the UK government advisory body on welfare, identified the basic principles that must be observed when specifically addressing the welfare of animals at slaughter (FAWC, 2003). These principles, the determinants of high welfare methodology, are: • pre-slaughter handling facilities which minimise stress; • use of competent well trained, caring personnel; • appropriate equipment which is fit for the purpose; • an effective process which induces immediate unconsciousness and insensibility, or an induction to a period of unconsciousness without distress; and • guarantee of non-recovery from that process until death ensues. These principles can be used to compare the welfare potential of humane livestock slaughter practices with current whale killing practices. Pre-slaughter handling facilities which minimise stress Once livestock animals arrive at the slaughterhouse, best practice is to unload them immediately into a holding area or ‘lairage’. Here, the animals can be fed, watered, rested and subject to veterinary inspection before slaughter. Any animal found to have experienced pain or suffering during transport or following arrival at the slaughterhouse must be slaughtered immediately (MAFF, 1995). In the European Union, for example, it is a fundamental legal requirement that animals must not be subjected to any avoidable excitement, pain or suffering (EU, 1993). In whaling operations, unrestrained whales are pursued by boat. Hunting methods vary. For example, Norwegian whalers attempt to position their boats where the whale is estimated to surface, although animals can be chased for up to six hours (chapter 9). Pursuit before killing is likely to subject the

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