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Friday, July 3, 2015

Fang Sheng ritual of compassion ~ releasing non-native crabs and lobsters !!

Fang Sheng is a term of Chinese Buddhists, referring to the practice of purchasing animals that are due to be slaughtered and letting them go. Ages ago, a monk  came across a pig caught in a hunter's trap and feeling compassion for its plight he released it.  The hunter claimed it was his property which was illegally set free and accused the monk guilty of theft. Buddha reportedly told that- monk had no intention of stealing and  from the perspective of Dhamma the monk had only exhibited compassion and hence was no offence. 

In modern day too, when fishermen haul their nets, inevitably they also haul in fish and marine creatures they didn’t intend to catch. The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations estimates that at least 8 percent of the fish caught around the world is unwanted and discarded. For this "bycatch" this encounter is often fatal, but it doesn’t always have to be so. In fact, commercial and recreational fisherman are trying to save accidentally caught sea critters using innovative tools, SeaQualizer, is one such which returns fish safely to the depths from whence they came. Deep-water fish are especially hard to keep alive after they’ve been caught — the change from deep ocean pressure to that at the surface over inflates their swim bladders, which ends up damaging their organs. Without help, they won’t survive. Typically, fishermen will slash open the fishes swim bladder before tossing them back in order to relieve some of that pressure, a process called "venting." "It’s as barbaric as it sounds and often leads to injury or death, but until around four years ago fishermen had no alternative—in some places, venting was even required by law," it is reported. 

SeaQualizer, claims to be more accurate.  The product brochure states that with the spin of a dial, fisherman can set the desired depth, clip the device to an accidentally caught fish’s jaws and let it go. Once the SeaQualizer detects that it has reached the right depth, it automatically unclips and the fish can swim away.I had earlier posted on Teller Lake in Boulder, Colorado, being  overrun with  thousands of  goldfish.  The lake in Boulder, Colorado, stands  invaded by thousands of gold fish, which wildlife officials say started as someone dumping 'four or five' of their pets in the water a couple of years ago.  The fish have multiplied so much that they are threatening to over-run the natural species in the lake, by eating up all their resources and spreading unnatural diseases.  Goldfish are not a native species in Colorado and are very harmful to the local aquatic ecosystem, it is stated.    Fish that are native to the lake that are now being threatened by the invasive goldfish include channel catfish, blue gill fish and sun fish.

Here is an interesting story of Buddhists act of compassion, ending up with some trouble.  MailOnline reports that a  group of Buddhists released £2,000 of crabs and lobsters into the sea as part of a religious ceremony -  and the surviving newcomers are killing native species.

Crustaceans from North America have been found in the waters off Brighton, which could threaten the sealife that lives in the area.The discovery of Canadian lobsters and Dungeness crabs was first announced by the Marine Management Organisation last week.  A Buddhist group had released crabs and lobsters into Brighton marina; in the US in 2012 as a part of their ritual. 

Officials warned that if anyone has released them into the waters, they could face criminal prosecution for disrupting the eco-system.Now it has emerged that a religious group, believed to be Buddhist, bought 200 lobsters and crabs from local fishmongers as part of an 'animal release' ritual. Around 120 people hired three fishing boats and threw the crustaceans into Brighton Marina to stop them being eaten.A fishmonger from Brighton and Newhaven Fish Sales said that the group had brought 100kg of local crabs and 70kg of spider crabs - which are both native species.He said that they must also have visited another trader to buy the Canadian lobsters and Dungeness crabs, chartered a fishing boat, took them out to sea and dropped them over the side.

There is no problem at all with releasing native lobsters and crab back into the wild as long as you take the rubber bands off their claws, but non-native species can be a real issue.  According to the firm which hired the boats, a group of monks flamboyant celebrated the release.  Now, the MMO said that officials were investigating the circumstances of the animals' release.In a statement, the organisation said: 'A small number of fishermen on the Sussex coast are reporting catches of non-native lobsters (Canadian Homarusamericanus) and crabs (Metacarcinus magister).'Under no circumstances should any non-native species be released back into the sea as release could impact native species and constitute an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.'

Anyone who finds the foreign crustaceans is urged to contact the MMO - but they are legally allowed to eat or sell them instead.Lobsters are native to several parts of North America, while Dungeness crabs are named after Dungeness, a port town in the American state of Washington.

Animal release, also known as 'fang sheng',  the Buddhist tradition which involves saving animals from ending up as food by returning them to the wild, a practice dating back nearly 2,000 years, has become controversial recently because it upsets the ecological balance of natural habitats.In 2012, the Humane Society International and the American Buddhist Confederation teamed up to discourage animal release, arguing that it makes wild animals more vulnerable and is therefore counter-productive.

Every action has a recation and every argument has a counter-argument !!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

25th June 2015.

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