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Whale sanctuary bid defeated
Voters lose battle for whale sanctuary

The International Whaling Commission’s annual meeting saw the defeat of a proposed whale sanctuary in the South Atlantic Ocean. Latin American countries argued that declaring a sanctuary would help whale conservation and whale-watching.

The bid gained more than half of the votes however fell short of the three-quarters majority needed to pass. Observers were aware that the vote was orderly and without animosity, a change to previous years.

Brazil's commissioner to the IWC, Marcos Pinta Gama, said he was disappointed by the result, but pleased that the vote had happened.

"We believe that the sanctuary is a very important initiative in order to ensure the protection of whales within the whole South Atlantic, to promote the non-lethal use of cetaceans and benign research that's important for conserving whales," he said.

The proposal covered almost the entire Atlantic Ocean south of the Equator, from the west coast of Africa to the east coast of South America. It would have joined up with the two existing whale sanctuaries approved by the IWC, in the Southern and Indian Oceans. However, delegations opposing the motion said there was no need for it.

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RSPCA braced for ‘hectic hedgehog month’

News Story 1
 The RSPCA says that it is bracing itself for a ‘hectic hedgehog month’ after calls to the charity about the creatures peaked this time last year.

More than 10,000 calls about hedgehogs were made to the RSPCA’s national helpline in 2018, 1,867 of which were in July. This compares with just 133 calls received in February of the same year.

Evie Button, the RSPCA’s scientific officer, said: “July is our busiest month for hedgehogs. Not only do calls about hedgehogs peak, but so do admissions to our four wildlife centres as members of the public and our own officers bring in orphaned, sick or injured animals for treatment and rehabilitation.” 

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ASF traces found in seized meat at NI airport

More than 300kg of illegal meat and dairy products were seized at Northern Ireland’s airports in June, DAERA has revealed.

A sample of these were tested at the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, resulting in the detection of African swine fever DNA fragments.

DAERA said that while the discovery does not pose a significant threat to Northern Ireland’s animal health status, it underlines the importance of controls placed on personal imports of meat and dairy products. Holidaymakers travelling overseas are being reminded not to bring any animal or plant products back home.