Sign on Letter for Animal Rights, Animal Welfare, and Vegetarian Organizations Opposed to OFTA

Sign on Letter for Animal Rights and Animal Welfare Organizations Opposed to OFTA 



If your organization would like to be added to this letter, which will be faxed to every member of Congress, please email or call (201) 928-2831 with Your Organization’s Name, Address, Phone, Email, and Contact Person.


Dear Member of Congress: 


We, the undersigned animal rights and animal welfare organizations are writing to express our opposition to the Oman Free Trade Agreement. This agreement poses a serious threat to the welfare of nonhuman animals, including farmed animals, marine animals, and terrestrial wildlife, as well as to human health and the environment. 


Marine Life Threatened by Expanded Fishing and Coastal Development 


OFTA not only provides greater rights to foreign investors, including subsidiaries of US corporations, greater rights in Oman than they are granted according to US law, it also allows multinational corporations to actually challenge any US government decisions about any federal contracts with the company, including natural resource contracts, service contracts, and infrastructure projects. This provision essentially ensures US corporations and their subsidiaries the right to unchecked, destructive development in Oman


Oman is home to five species of endangered sea turtles, and an estimated 30,000 loggerhead sea turtles nest on Masirah Island, Oman. Uncontrolled development has already led to the disturbance and destruction of beaches that serve as vital nesting, foraging and feeding locations for a variety of species of sea turtles. Artificial lighting on the beaches may disorient hatchlings, drawing them away from the ocean, and vehicle traffic on beaches compresses the sand, making nest building difficult or impossible2. One solution to this problem is placing limits on the number of businesses to limit the negative impact of development projects including oil drilling, hotels, resorts and waste incinerators 3. Yet such limits are specifically prohibited under OFTA4.


In addition, Oman has not signed on to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which regulates international trade in wildlife. However, according to CITES reports, Oman is home to 24 species of animals that are threatened with extinction and 189 additional species whose trade must be closely controlled for their survival. The animals threatened with extinction include the desert lynx, the Arabian oryx and the Indo-Pacific Humpbacked dolphin, as well as leopards, grey wolves, urials, ostriches, monitor lizards, manatees, four species of whales, five species of birds, and five species of sea turtles. These include the green turtle, the hawksbill turtle, which is also listed on the World Conservation Union’s Red List of critically endangered species, the loggerhead turtle, the olive ridley turtle, and the leatherback turtle. Oman currently provides critical habitat to only two of the five species of sea turtles that live on its shores, and there is no provision of OFTA that mandates the animals’ protection in the future.


Destructive fishing is also a serious concern, as a source of habitat destruction for sea turtles and other marine animals. Humpback whales, sea turtles, and critically endangered sawfish and shark species are all seriously threatened by entanglement in fishing nets and accidental hooking. As larger enterprises sweep through the seas with their larger nets, sea turtles become entangled in them and drown when they cannot reach the surface; loggerhead turtles are highly migratory, and leatherbacks, of which just 2,300 adults are thought to remain, do not dive very deep, leaving them especially vulnerable to fishers.


Weak Environmental Protections  


The trade agreement with Oman does not require either country to abide by any set of minimum environmental standards, nor does it mandate any form of sanctions for breaching key environmental treaties on biodiversity and species protection.  It does, however, reinforce the trade rules in previous agreements which allow corporations to sue governments for lost profit if they believe a law, be it environmental or animal welfare, has hindered their ability to trade.  The Oman agreement, like other trade agreements before it, continues to put corporate profits above the interests of humans, animals, and the environment.   



We ask that all members of Congress recognize nonhuman animals as stakeholders when weighing the costs of this agreement.  Mahatma Gandhi once said that, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”  Our nation must apply this principle to matters of international trade as well as domestic policy and members of Congress must vote “NO!” to this inhumane agreement. 


For a Humane World,



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