Activists call for whale refuges, but can they stay afloat?

In this May 9, 2017, photo, Kina, a 40-year-old false killer whale, works with trainer Jeff Pawloski at Sea Life Park in Waimanalo, Hawaii. The former U.S. Navy research whale that has contributed to groundbreaking science for the past 30 years is again making waves after being sold to the marine amusement park in Hawaii. Animal-rights activists say Kina deserves a peaceful retirement in an ocean-based refuge, but is instead being traumatized by confinement in concrete tanks. (AP)
Updated 08 August 2017
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Activists call for whale refuges, but can they stay afloat?

WAIMANALO, HAWAII: A Hawaii marine park’s purchase of Kina, a 40-year-old false killer whale long used in echolocation research, has reignited a debate about captive marine mammals and the places that care for them.
Most of the world’s captive cetaceans — dolphins, whales and porpoises — are now born in marine-park breeding programs, though some are still taken from the wild. Since they’re so expensive to care for, even marine mammals used solely for research, like Kina, often end up at attractions like Oahu’s Sea Life Park.
Animal-rights activists are calling for the creation of ocean-based refuges, where they say captive marine animals could retire and live a life closer to nature. At least two groups already are working to create such sanctuaries, but experts question whether they can stay afloat.
A closer look at the discussion:
HOW DO MARINE MAMMALS END UP IN CAPTIVITY?
In the past, many were captured from the wild, taken from their family pods and put in marine parks.
In Japan, fishermen would round up scores of dolphins and whales in coves, killing most but selecting some for sale to parks. That fishery has been widely criticized, and most marine parks no longer take its animals.
Kina is believed to be the last living captive animal in the United States taken from a Japanese dolphin drive.
Today, most marine mammals in parks are born in captive breeding programs that originated when wild animals were taken from the ocean.
Parks and aquariums have long moved animals among different facilities to ensure genetic diversity but can now mail sperm from their animals to other parks to ensure a healthy population.
WHAT TYPES OF SITES HOLD THESE ANIMALS?
Most research labs around the world that keep marine mammals solely for science have closed because of funding problems, said Paul Nachtigall, founder of the University of Hawaii’s Marine Mammal Research Program.
His sea pens where Kina lived at the university were among them. It cost nearly $1 million a year to keep three animals at the lab.
Scientists agree most captive whales wouldn’t survive if released into the wild.
Keiko, the orca that starred as Willy in the 1993 blockbuster “Free Willy,” is an example of the difficulty involved in releasing captive animals. In the film, a boy helps set the captive whale free. But in real life, Keiko was rescued after the movie because of an outcry over his conditions at a Mexico park. The whale eventually was released into the wild but died a short time later.
WHAT ARE OCEAN SANCTUARIES?
Animal-rights activists are proposing establishing refuges for retiring show animals by netting off large areas of coastal ocean.
The sanctuaries would be much larger and deeper than tanks and pools at family attractions, though the animals would still require constant care. Advocates say the refuges would employ trained staff similar to those at marine parks.
ARE ANY IN THE WORKS?
Yes. A group called The Whale Sanctuary Project is raising money and hopes to open a sea sanctuary in the coming years.
Project organizers started with about 100 possible sanctuary sites and have narrowed that to 20 locations in British Columbia, Nova Scotia and Washington state. They will begin pursuing permits for two or three promising locations next year, President Lori Marino said.
The refuge will publish observational data on its whales and dolphins but will not allow in-depth, invasive research on them, Marino said.
Meanwhile, the National Aquarium in Baltimore last year announced it will retire its dolphins into a “pioneering” ocean pen by 2020.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals welcomed the news, and the CEO of the Humane Society of the United States blogged that the head of the aquarium “has done something terribly important.”
“There’s no model anywhere that we’re aware of for this,” aquarium CEO John Racanelli told The Associated Press in an interview ahead of the announcement. “We’re pioneering here, and we know it’s neither the easiest nor the cheapest option.”
WOULD THESE FACILITIES WORK?
Nachtigall says sanctuaries are a great idea, but he worries they’ll face the same money problems his research program experienced.
The animals need quality food, veterinary care and stimulation, which requires a large staff and expensive infrastructure.
“If you’re going to care for the animals the best way you can, you have to have the funding to do it,” he said. “The best way to bring in funding consistently is to have a paying public.”
Marino believes a shift in thinking — and funding — could be the answer. She says her project, which was incorporated last year, has raised about $1 million of the $20 million needed to get off the ground. Continued funding of about $2 million per year would come from donors and public education programs.
If marine parks collaborated with sanctuary creators, she says, more dolphins and whales could be swimming in the ocean. “I think there are people in the captivity community that want to see this happen.”


KSA must become more resilient against cyberattacks

Updated 22 July 2018
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KSA must become more resilient against cyberattacks

  • Healthcare data is of particular interest to hackers because it can be used to blackmail people in positions of power
  • A trained security professional cannot win the battle against cybercrime with just a mere knowledge of IT security

DUBAI: Cybercrime attacks could double over the next two years and cost Saudi Arabia’s economy up to SR30 billion ($8 billion) by 2020, according to security experts who warn the Kingdom is the most targeted county in the GCC for online fraudsters.
While Saudi Arabia is stepping up the war against cybercrime, the Kingdom must invest in training its own security professionals, expand its pool of skilled workers and strengthen its cybersecurity regulation to become more resilient against emerging attacks.
“Based on our relationship with key Saudi clients, we see that cybercrime in Saudi is growing faster than in most of the countries in the world, with more than a 35 percent increase in the number of attacks during the past year,” said Simone Vernacchia, a partner in Digital, CyberSecurity, Resilience and Infrastructure for PWC Middle East.
“Based on our experience in the GCC, Saudi is being targeted more frequently, and the cost of cyberattacks is 6 to 8 percent higher than in the rest of the GCC countries. The Saudi economy provides a more appealing target for cyberattackers.”
Vernacchia said it can be difficult to measure the true direct and indirect cost on Saudi Arabia’s economy each year.
“This said, we would expect direct and indirect costs arising from cyberattacks to total $3 to $4 billion (SR11.25 billion to SR15 billion) for 2018,” said Vernacchia.
“Assuming the growth will not be affected by large-scale events, we expect the direct and indirect impact of cyberattacks to grow up to $6 to $8 billion (SR22.5 billion to SR30 billion) by 2020. Among the major external events that can affect this figure, uncertainties in the region can result in an even more aggressive surge of cyberattacks.”
Vernacchia said there was a lack of willpower in organizations to invest in security measures, and urged them to invest in the manpower and technology that will enable them to become more resilient in the face of growing attacks. While Saudi is “not completely unprepared,” most businesses in the Kingdom are investing in cybersecurity far less than the leading countries.
“We see the average investment in cybersecurity awareness and capability to be on average about 60 percent lower in Saudi Arabia than what is invested by organizations of the same size in leading countries.
“This is a result of limited regulatory requirements for private entities, as private companies are trading the immediate benefit of spending less on cybersecurity protection with the high cost of one — or more — potentially highly effective targeted cyberattacks.”
An increase in cybersecurity regulation could also strongly limit the growth of cyberattacks, Vernacchia said. “The limited amount of cybersecurity-related regulation is a key issue, as it’s having two key effects. On one hand, some businesses are underestimating their exposure, and thus not investing in cybersecurity as they should — de facto increasing their risk. Other businesses are waiting for regulation to be drafted before investing in cybersecurity, in fear that the organization, processes and solutions they would implement may not be in line with the regulatory requirements which are coming.”
Amir Kolahzadeh, CEO of cybersecurity firm ITSEC, said Saudi-based business are reluctant to invest in adequate cybersecurity measures as they fail to recognize the long-term value of the initial investment needed.
“The core issues that every business is looking at in cybersecurity is a line item expense instead of looking what the cost would be if there is a breach,” he said. “This is a worldwide epidemic at the moment. However, it is much more evident in the GCC due to lack of truly trained IT security professionals who can show the business acumen, foresight and the communication skills to demonstrate that potential losses are exponentially greater than the cost of securing the enterprise.”
David Michaux, of online security company Whispering Bell, said as Saudi Arabia forges ahead with its knowledge-based economy and becomes “more online,” the potential for attacks will grow.
With Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 of a “knowledge economy,” growth in the ICT will be fueled by digitization — including IT innovation, big data projects, smart city initiatives, and cloud-based services. In addition, Saudis are among the most active social media users in the world — and largest adopters of Twitter in the Arab region.
Mathivanan V., vice president of ManageEngine, said while Saudi Arabia has taken “significant steps” to achieve cyber-readiness, including the introduction of the National Authority of Cyber Security which aims to enhance the protection of networks, IT systems, and data through regulatory and operational tasks, he warned that sophisticated cyberthreats have evolved in the wake of digitization and urged companies to better employ sustainable IT practices and state-of-the-art cybersecurity tools.
“A trained security professional cannot win the battle against cybercrime with just a mere knowledge of IT security,” he said. “What he needs is the right weapon to master the art of cybersecurity.”
James Lyne, head of R&D at SANS Institute, which specializes in information security, said given Saudi Arabia’s visible agenda to lead the charge in smart cities, connected industry and to develop a knowledge economy, it is key that the Kingdom also has an equally ambitious cybersecurity skills strategy.
“A gap between the two will lead to substantial attacks and reputation damage for the region,” he said.
“Firstly, Saudi Arabia needs more cybersecurity practitioners overall — particularly with the ambitious development projects being undertaken as part of the Kingdom’s 2030 Vision. Secondly, existing cybersecurity practitioners also have to continue to sharpen their skills to increase the depth of their expertise.”
He urged companies not to ignore the fact that employee behavior is a weak link in cybersecurity and is becoming an increasing source of risk.
“Many of the breaches that occur still take advantage of basic cybersecurity failures and, as such, education has to be a huge part of the solution. Everyone in Saudi Arabia has a role to play in making sure that cybercriminals get fewer clicks on their nasty emails, documents and phishing links.”
He said it was difficult to truly grasp the overall financial figures associated with cybercrime.
“That said, even the tip of the iceberg that we do see is very substantial and it has already been demonstrated that Saudi Arabia is a major target. Given attackers have already had success compromising facilities, it is extremely likely other cybercriminals will follow.”