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Georgia Aquarium Battles Federal Government Over Belugas 90

An anonymous reader writes: The Georgia Aquarium has argued in court that the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration's denial of its permit to import beluga whales from Russia was arbitrary and capricious. The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration's National Marine Fisheries Service says the aquarium failed to meet the requirements of a law meant to protect marine mammals. Both sides accuse the other of twisting the facts, a NOAA lawyer accuses the aquarium trying "to confuse the court," and a lawyer for the aquarium says the government had "cooked the books" on whale population numbers.
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Georgia Aquarium Battles Federal Government Over Belugas

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  • approval (Score:5, Informative)

    by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Sunday August 16, 2015 @08:27PM (#50328477) Journal
    I'm so glad I'm a programmer. The only legal issues I have to deal with are patents and copyright suits. So much easier, right?

    According to the article, the aquarium already has some beluga whales in its care. When the new whales arrive, some of them will be kept in Georgia, others will be transferred to Sea World.

    Originally, the regulatory agency gave approval. Then in 2013, the agency changed its mind, and denied the approval. What movie about Sea World came out in 2013?

    In any case, the aquarium is suing the agency to open up the documents that explain why their request was denied. So far that hasn't gone through court yet.

    (Note, this is all from the article, and news articles are frequently wrong. I don't have any inside information here).
    • Re:approval (Score:5, Interesting)

      by fustakrakich ( 1673220 ) on Sunday August 16, 2015 @09:09PM (#50328625) Journal

      I don't understand why it should be approved. It's cruel to the animal. That's a pretty straightforward reason to deny it.

      • Re:approval (Score:5, Interesting)

        by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Sunday August 16, 2015 @09:39PM (#50328709) Journal

        Indeed. They should shut all the facilities down, euthanize the animals that have no hope of being reintroduced to the wild and outlaw the importation or breeding of whales and dolphins.

        Oh, and fuck Sea World's investors.

        • They're not doing this for restocking the oceans. Anyway, I can't speak up against it without being modded into oblivion. So, I'll just have to let it go...

          • by KGIII ( 973947 )

            Why care about moderation that much? Hell, I am fucking shocked that I have "excellent" karma. I do not say nice things and am seldom on topic. I can't say I agree with you - I am not sure how I think, they're pretty cushy at their new home but it still sucks but we do it to other animals and have decided that is okay. We draw the line at Whales? Why stop there? So, no... I haven't a clue. I suspect is that they just don't want to have to deal with protesters. Say what you want. Nobody gives a shit, really.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by iluvcapra ( 782887 )

          Indeed. They should shut all the facilities down, euthanize the animals that have no hope of being reintroduced to the wild and outlaw the importation or breeding of whales and dolphins.

          There are rescue organizations and zoos that would be happy to take many of these animals, that they're in captivity is one issue but it's not as important as their mistreatment. When Sea World can't use a whale in an act, they use it to breed more performing animals; if they can't use it to breed, they throw it away, eithe

          • Oh, and fuck Sea World's investors.

            I'm not exactly sure how someone's right to profits balances against concrete harms visited on intelligent creatures, for no other purpose than doing tricks in front of a paying audience.

            That was covered in the prior comment. Fuck them right in their evil enslaving asses.

        • by houghi ( 78078 )

          Except for the euthanize part, I am all for it. Close the circus for public. Add no new animals by breeding or otherwise.

          The same should happen with zoos.

          Some people will say that the animals are becoming extinct, but if the animals have no way of returning, then just saving them because it is nice to have them, then we should not keep them.

          If there is a chance that we can bring them back to the wild, we do not need the public to see them.

          I would say: do it in steps.
          1) Close these for the public
          2) See that

          • by dywolf ( 2673597 )

            a lot of zoos need a lot of work, bigger enclosures, etc. (a lot of smaller Midwestern city zoos; Henry Dorley in Omaha is a world class zoo, but OKC's city zoo erally really needs bigger enclosures for its animals, the rhinos and cats in particular (though they are working on it as they get funding, so good on em))

            some zoos are actively cruel and abusive, and should be shutdown (the "safari zoo" north of Reno comes to mind).

            but generally speaking, you do need the public to see them.
            without public support t

    • I'm so glad I'm a programmer outside USA where software patents aren't valid.

    • Re:approval (Score:5, Informative)

      by Aighearach ( 97333 ) on Monday August 17, 2015 @12:08AM (#50329181) Homepage

      Well, don't just blindly trust the Fox News story here.

      As to the claim that they didn't give reasons...

      http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/pe... [noaa.gov]

      All of the documents are there, including the public comment, and the response from the company to the public comments, and the denial letter.

      http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/pe... [noaa.gov]
      http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/pe... [noaa.gov]

      I find their responses to the public comments to be evasive, dishonest, and confrontational. They make no attempt to seriously address the issues in a way that could lead to compromise solutions or mitigation of problems.

      They give a bunch of reasons for denial. And they didn't approve it and then unapprove it, either; they processed the application and denied it. The whales were captured in Russia before the permit application. Fox News would prefer it to be ambiguous so that it sounds like the big bad Gubermint is hurting everybody by changing their minds. But that didn't happen.

      Remember, the default thing with importing marine mammals for public display is that you can't do it. You can't just buy a marine mammal and build an aquarium. You need special permission, because these are intelligent animals who are under continued population stress due to human activity. People have gone to great lengths to afford them some minor protections. You need to get a permit, and it needs to be in the public interest. This company seems to think that they have a right to import marine mammals, but they simply don't. That isn't a right. The government has a significant interest in regulating foreign trade.

      Why does Fox News care? Because evul libraaals want to save whales.

      https://www.change.org/p/noaa-... [change.org]

      There was no approval before the denial. They applied, the public commented, the agency considered, and they denied it. Which is what most of the public wanted in this case. I don't even understand their claim; how could they have approval already before the required public comment period, etc? It makes no sense at all. They knew the process going in; the person doing the review recommended denial, and the Agency agreed and denied. It is a requirement of the law that in order to issue such a permit, it has to not have a negative impact on the species. In this case, these are whales being captured in the wild purely to sell to zoos, and so supporting that trade has a small but negative impact on the species. There is no positive conservation goal identified that balances that. It is purely for entertainment. That is banned under the law where it has any negative impact on the species. In other cases, whales that are threatened in the wild are captured to be used in captive breeding programs that are believed to have a net positive impact on the species. That means it is legal for NOAA to issue the permit in those cases. The Beluga population is not benefiting or expected to benefit from any such breeding program.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        Actually that was an AP story and shows up on FoxNews because almost all AP stories show up there. But hey thanks for sharing your hate.
        • He's of the Lois Griffin Theory of Fox News.

          "Everything Fox News says is a lie. Even true things, once said on Fox News, become lies."

        • by Uberbah ( 647458 )

          Actually that was an AP story and shows up on FoxNews because almost all AP stories show up there. But hey thanks for sharing your hate.

          FOX is blameless because they passed on a lie, but weren't the source of the lie themselves? Make sure to tell that to Dan Rather on your way to getting over your butthurt.

    • by dywolf ( 2673597 )

      Sounds like the aquarium was acting as a middleman buyer to disguise the actual buyer.

      And they got denied for trying to do something fishy.

  • it's wrong (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cats-paw ( 34890 ) on Sunday August 16, 2015 @08:42PM (#50328527) Homepage

    keeping Belugas in captivity is wrong, wrong, wrong.

    The Georgia Acquarium was wrong from the moment they started this effort.

    • keeping Belugas in captivity is wrong, wrong, wrong.

      The Georgia Acquarium was wrong from the moment they started this effort.

      Fair enough, but that isn't the law. You can't abuse regulatory process for ulterior motives.

      Though it is done all the time.

    • keeping Belugas in captivity is wrong, wrong, wrong.

      The Georgia Acquarium was wrong from the moment they started this effort.

      That Dentist who killed the lion wants to shoot those pesky whales.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It's hard to believe that this is even still a debate in 2015.

  • ... will take the second bid for the whales. From Benihana.

  • by AHuxley ( 892839 ) on Sunday August 16, 2015 @10:06PM (#50328789) Journal
    Understand and leverage current US geo politics surrounding Russia.
    List nations surrounding Russia that have just had a US back coup or historical US backed color revolution.
    Contact State Department and ask for any type of whale from other nations surrounding Russia.
    Watch as all US paper work is done in hours and transport aircraft fly press to see US backed conservation effort success story.
    Ensure to include big national flags on plaques around exhibit and plan big press event for opening ceremony.
  • Did any of the lawyers for either NOAA or the aquarium have BULBOUS BOUFFANTS?

    Cuz, if you grew up in the 70s and 80s like me, then you know how cool [youtube.com] that would be if they did.

  • Um, I have a question: WTF does NOAA have to do with this? They can't get a weather prediction for next week right so why do they have anything whatsoever to do with this? Bitch and moan all you want about mistreatment of whales but the bigger issue is too many chiefs and no indians.

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