[MARMAM] IMPORTANT: Update on SMM Special Session on the Humane Killing of Marine Mammals

SMM Ethics Advisory Committee smmethics at gmail.com
Sun Nov 10 10:48:28 PST 2013

The Society for Marine Mammalogy is moving forward in engaging our
membership on the issue of purposefully and humanely killing marine
mammals.  As you may know this is a complex and sensitive topic given the
diversity of cultures and perspectives within our Society.

To begin the conversation the Society is undertaking two activities.  The
first is organizing a working group to use scientific expertise within the
Society (physiology, behavior, veterinary medicine, etc.) to develop a list
of considerations and best practices that should be taken into account
whenever a marine mammal is deliberately killed.  This group will summarize
available information from the IWC, AVMA and other agencies, and offer new
recommendations where appropriate.  The Society’s Board feels that this is
a reasonable first step that avoids the normative question of determining
when it is ethical to kill marine mammals and when it is not.  We believe
that that the vast majority of our membership believes that, if a marine
mammal is going to be killed, regardless of the reason, it should be done
in the most humane way the situation allows.  The group will develop a
white paper and associated on-line resources over the next year and make
these resources available to the Society and general public.

The second activity will be a special session on the humane killing of
marine mammals, to be held at the upcoming biennial conference in Dunedin,
New Zealand Dec 9-13, 2013.  The purpose of this panel discussion is NOT to
attempt a consensus or agree on a Society position, but instead to educate
members with regard to current scientific perspectives on these complex
technical, ethical and cultural issues.

The special session will have the following basic structure: (1) an
independent facilitator, (2) introductory speaker(s) who will outline the
relevant science, and (3) an expert panel with the capacity to represent a
diversity of viewpoints on the issue in answers to questions provided by
the Society’s membership.

Members of the Society will are invited to submit questions/comments online one
month prior to the meeting via the Member Area of the website. The
questions will be visible to the entire membership on the Society web site
for transparency's sake. The working group organizing the session will
select a set of the questions that encompass the aspects of the issue. The
expert panel will then discuss the questions.

Sir Geoffrey Palmer will facilitate for this special session.  Sir Geoffrey
is a former Prime Minister of New Zealand and was the New Zealand delegate
to the IWC for several years, experience that makes him outstandingly well
qualified for the role.

The panel currently consists of 5 members:  Dr. Nick Gales (Australian
Antarctic Division), Dr. Diana Reiss (Hunter College, CUNY), Dr. Paul
Jepson (Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London), and Dr. James
Kirkwood (Universities Federation for Animal Welfare).

 We hope you will be able to attend the special session and contribute to
the dialog by submitting your questions or comments.  You can submit here:

You must be a member of the Society to submit.

If you have any questions please send them to smmethics at gmail.com
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