Beluga Whale


PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 09 September, 2011, 12:00am

Display of whales has its benefits

Ocean Park was designed to bring the public up close and personal to living marine animals.

This increases the value of marine life in the eyes of people who rarely have the funds and opportunity to see these animals in nature.

It stimulates their interest in both wildlife and conservation. Display, exhibit and education are arguably the core conservation business of Ocean Park and other aquariums and zoos open to the public.

Beluga whales are not a threatened species according to the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List of Threatened Species.

Furthermore, they are harvested sustainably and eaten by Arctic people from Greenland to Canada.

Releasing a common animal back into the ocean has little, if any, real conservation significance. In contrast, through display, Ocean Park can play a major role in educating the public about belugas, which is important if the species does become threatened in the future.

Charlie Lim, chairman, conservation and management committee, Marine Products Association

Ocean Park made the right decision

We refer to the letter from Scott Smyth ('Ocean Park needs to decide whether it wants to continue keeping live animals', September 3) in protest at the recent decision by the park not to import beluga whales.

We represent groups locally and internationally who view this as a wise decision by Ocean Park, following considerable discussion and research surrounding the implications such an import would see.

The facts that support this decision show that captive marine facilities cannot possibly replicate the complexity and wide-ranging environment these animals experience in the wild, nor fully cater to their social or biological needs.

Indeed, several countries across the world have banned the live display of marine mammals on welfare grounds.

'Real animals', as referenced by Mr Smyth, require appropriate environments where their natural behaviours - including swimming across hundreds of kilometres per day and enjoying family and social interactions - can be allowed to continue unhindered.

While his children may not see beluga whales in the flesh in a tank, surely they will appreciate that confinement of these complex, social mammals conflicts with the messages of education and conservation, and that their capture, transport and long-term imprisonment is in direct contrast to the life they would enjoy in the wild.

Our thanks to Ocean Park for a decision that is surely applauded by everyone who cares for the conservation, welfare and choice of the oceans' intelligent, sentient species.

Jill Robinson, on behalf of Animals Asia Foundation, Hong Kong Dolphin Conservation Society, Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (HK), Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society

Steering clear of tuition classes

Tuition centres are becoming increasingly popular. More secondary school students are being attracted to these centres.

I think this phenomenon is caused by the herd instinct.

These colleges use a variety of methods to promote their ser- vices and attract new customers, such as newspapers, magazines and television adverts.

They try and draw attention to their most popular tutors in the hope that young people will sign up for their classes.

I have never signed up for sessions at any of these tutorial centres. I know that they can help people, but I would rather study on my own.

If we work hard and pay attention in school then hopefully we can get good results. I feel that the fees spent on these colleges are a waste of money.

Chareen Ma, Sha Tin

No need to subsidise ESF schools

I support Cynthia Sze's call for an end to the government subvention to the English Schools Foundation ('Hong Kong should not pay ESF to maintain its luxurious schools', August 30).

ESF schools are not different in nature from other private international schools in terms of the curriculum offered and student mix.

However, government subsidies provided for the ESF have been much more favourable than those for other international schools.

While many local aided schools are looking for new funding for survival, ESF schools got a HK$269 million government grant for the year ended August 31, 2010.

I do not think this government funding is spending on those 'in need'.

Unlike local aided schools, the graduates of which mostly pursued their studies in local universities, the majority of the graduates of ESF schools, similar to those of other international schools, pursued their studies overseas.

This is an indication that ESF graduates are a well-off group of students.

I believe that there are many more students in local aided schools with a genuine need for a subsidy.

I urge the government to cut the subsidy to ESF gradually.

The administration should also announce a timetable giving details of each year's subsidy reductions.

James Tsui Siu-lung, Kowloon Tong

Raise taxes on inefficient light bulbs

Inefficient light bulbs waste a lot of energy and I am glad the government wants to replace them with fluorescent ones. However, it does not have a clear idea about how to implement the initiative.

It should increase taxes on the sale of incandescent lights and lower taxes for fluorescent lights. The more energy-efficient light bulbs would cost less and become more popular with consumers and would eventually replace incandescent bulbs.

Peter Cheung, Sha Tin

Local soccer channel welcomed

Soccer is very popular in Hong Kong. This can easily be seen by the number of subscribers to paid-for channels showing live matches from the top leagues in Europe.

Paid-for TV companies have survived because they have the rights to broadcast games from these top-flight leagues.

However, Hongkongers also enjoy local soccer and there is a lot a competition to book pitches. As an amateur player and fan, I am therefore pleased to learn that the Hong Kong Football Association is setting up a 24-hour channel showing First Division teams.

I think the channel will boost audience numbers, with more people enjoying watching the matches at home. It will make the local game more popular. I also think it will help players. Because they know that many people are watching them on TV, they will give 100 per cent on the pitch.

Commercial sponsorship will increase, but I am worried about the subscription cost for fans. They do not pay much to attend the game and the association must take that into account. Also, it worries me that the fees that clubs have to pay could be too high for smaller teams and they may be edged out.

By starting this channel the football association is showing that it is trying its best to boost the image of soccer in Hong Kong.

W. H. Chan, Kwun Tong

Justify extra medical charges

There has been a lot of discussion about the fact that mainland women giving birth in Hong Kong will have to pay a higher fee than local women.

On a related matter, what I do not think can be justified is that hospitals charge differently for the same procedure depending on the type of room you are in. That I pay more for a private room (the room itself) is logical but why pay tens of thousands more for the procedure? This is a rip-off.

I was hospitalised last year and first visited the specialist on the 7th floor for 25 minutes, and was charged HK$600. He wanted me to stay for observation. I opted for a private room on the 5th floor. He visited three times a day for two minutes and I was charged HK$3,000 per visit. Had I known [this] in advance, I would have gone to his 7th floor office instead.

No wonder doctors want to work in the private sector. There should be stricter rules governing these charges. Can any hospital or doctor justify the difference in charges between a private room and ward room procedure? I do not mean the room charge, just the operation and bedside visits.

Jeffry Kuperus, Clear Water Bay