First go round, it was the Georgia Aquarium (on behalf of not only itself but also SeaWorld, the Shedd Aquarium and Mystic Aquarium) that said that it needed to import beluga whales from outside the United States. Now SeaWorld is spearheading the effort, having set its sights on obtaining dolphins, more specifically, on an unnamed female Pacific Whitesided Dolphin, now being held captive at an aquarium in Japan. The proposal is to tear her from her captive surroundings, from the dolphins that she has come to know, and to “ship” her as so much cargo halfway around the world to be put into another tank with strangers.
When is the welfare of the dolphin ever considered? But I digress.
And we, the public, have an opportunity to give our input, to submit our comments, objections and questions on the permit application. Comments must be submitted by March 6 to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on the SeaWorld San Antonio application to import a female Japanese Pacific Whitesided dolphin.
At least based upon the readily-accessible information, there appear to be many unknowns. Without more information, it appears that this import permit application is either
- not giving the public a meaningful opportunity to review and provide input; or
- >is, itself, incomplete.
So, first, request all the additional information that NOAA is relying upon in its evaluation of the permit application. Then raise meaningful questions in your comments, such as:
- Who is the specific dolphin that SeaWorld intends to import? While there may be others who believe that they can piece it together to make a reasoned guess as to her identity, that burden in not on the public. SeaWorld and NOAA share that one, with the ultimate burden falling on SeaWorld for the content of its application and the conclusions drawn from evaluating that application on NOAA.
- Where is the birth record and the names of those to interview to verify that she (assuming they already have an individual in mind) is, in fact, captive-bred, as asserted in the application, and a record of the interviews conducted and by whom?
- Failing the availability of a record that includes those interviews, on what basis will NOAA evaluate whether and agree that the unnamed female dolphin was captive-bred. NOAA must, via this record, eliminate the real potential (given the holding aquarium’s current ownership of wild-caught dolphins) for a wild-caught dolphin to be unlawfully imported into the United States without making all the necessary threshold determinations.
- Failing a substantiation that the dolphin is not wild-caught, if it may then be presumed to be wild-caught (or they would surely have the records and interviews in the record), demonstrate that the dolphin was not caught in a hunt that has been recognized as inhumane, opposed by even by the International Marine Animal Trainers Association.
This should get you started. In your comments, request a public hearing, or there won’t be one.
Shine as much sunlight on this as possible.
TO SUBMIT COMMENTS/QUESTIONS:
Via Email: NMFS.Pr1Comments@noaa.gov
Via Fax: (301) 713-0376
TO REQUEST ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: CONTACT: Jennifer Skidmore or Kristy Beard: (301)427-8401.