The Most Commented-on Federal Register Notice – No more wild-caught belugas

I’m presaging a headline that I’d like us to read, “The most comments ever received on a Federal Register Notice.”  What Federal Register Notice do I mean?  Well, it has not yet been published, but if you’re reading this blog, you will hear about it, either here or from Candace Calloway Whiting, Elizabeth Batt, Save Misty the Dolphin, Free the Atlanta 11, or others whose blogs or articles I have not yet had the privilege to read.

Stop Georgia Aquarium from importing wild-caught beluga whales from Save Misty the Dolphin

Stop Georgia Aquarium from importing wild-caught beluga whales, photo from Save Misty the Dolphin

Artist for the Ocean has created a Facebook event, so if you do FB, this is a central place for info, petitions and events relevant to the beluga importation issue.

Candace, if I may be so bold as to address her that familiarly, has already provided  information regarding the process of commenting on a permit application.  But I just want to add “a few words,” because, well, I have this view that blogging is useful.

A few words:

  • Have you ever wondered how to comment on a proposed regulation or permit issued by the Federal Government?
  • Haven’t you ever wanted to participate in this process to which the public – well, except for the lobbyists – often pays little attention?
  • Wouldn’t you like to write a reasoned comment to the Federal government and see the government’s response, in writing, to your question or concern published in the Federal Register?

Me, too!

One of the really cool things about our Federal Government is that, in most contexts, it must consider and respond to the public’s comments that are timely submitted, in this case, during a public comment period.  If the comments are reasoned and reasonable comments, the government’s job of responding must be similarly reasoned and reasonable.

As it so happens, there’s a public comment period coming up regarding the Georgia Aquarium’s attempt to import 18 wild beluga whales into the United States for the captivity industry.  We won’t know when, as Candace’s article summarized, until the Georgia Aquarium’s permit application is published in the Federal Register.

Why this is so  important is that it has been a verrrrrrrry long time since an American aquarium imported wild-caught whales or dolphins into the United States.  Sure, the Georgia Aquarium imported their first two belugas from Mexico, but that was a genuine attempt to provide relief to two whales who, reportedly, did not live in ideal conditions.  The importation of those whales reportedly improved their individual chance of survival and their quality of life and access to medical care.

When, however, a whale is a member of a stable, wild community, living in its home migration path in the ocean, and we choose to pluck it out of the ocean – at significant risk that the whale will be injured or worse – well, that is a horse of a very different color, don’t you think?

So stay tuned, put on your thinking cap, peruse the NOAA website, and get ready to make this permit application the most commented-on, ever.

In the meantime, sign the petition and on July 21, come stand at the Georgia Aquarium to say at their front door, “In my country, we do not import wild-caught cetaceans.”

Georgia Aquarium wants this beluga whale to live in a tank

A free beluga whale, in the Arctic where it should stay, photo by John Ford. The Georgia Aquarium wants 18 of these free beluga whales to live in a tank.

11 responses to “The Most Commented-on Federal Register Notice – No more wild-caught belugas

  1. Elizabeth Batt

    Great stuff Martha, thanks for the mention 🙂 By the way, the belugas in Mexico came via Russia. An “indirect” procurement they are fond of using.

    • Thank you, and you’re very welcome. Your Op Ed was awesome!

      And re: the Russian beluga whale connection, Ahhhh! Thanks for that information, Elizabeth!

  2. Deborah Massey

    These animals do not belong to you, they do not belong to anyone. Your actions are no different to the slavers of the 1800’s who stole people from their homes,families and countries to satisfy your get rich quick schemes

  3. signed and shared.

  4. Great article. Really hoping that this permit is not issued (though the chances of that are probably very slim). My friends are getting sick of hearing me talk about this issue!

    I would like to note that Nico and Gasper’s conditions in Mexico were actually quite horrible; the roller coaster they lived under actually had to be partially dismantled in order to get them out of there. Although it is still captivity and obviously no where near ideal, GA Aquarium is a better place than under that roller coaster, that’s for sure.

    • Thank you, Shannon. Yes. I agree that the permit should fail and that the conditions in which Nico and Gaspar were held before the GA was bad, so that bringing them to the GA was a move to a better place. It does appear to me that that was a rescue. But building a breeding program is not.

      Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  5. Lots of great info, Mo! As always hitting the nail right on the head! I’m so proud to say you are part of Free the Atlanta 11! Your talents will not go unrewarded!
    Elizabeth Batt, didn’t know about the mexican belugas coming from russia! Like Mo, I thank-you for the info! Wondering who in Russia is benefiting from these captures and how? Monitary or something else? Any info or ideas about that?
    Deborah Massey, I agree completely! Unfortunately we have to be careful about the correlation between the 1800 slavery issue and this. Some, many, if not all African Americans would take issue with the comparison. My gutt feeling tells me that they think we are comparing them to animals, which is not our intention at all. If they don’t see the similarities between humans and cetaceans the way we do, the concept is lost to them and becomes offensive. Again, I definately agree, but I’m someone who sees cetaceans to the ocean as humans are to the land! Just a thought about that!
    Shannon, never stop talking about this issue! Don’t give up! I know the feeling! I’m guessing that you, like me, are passionate about cetacean captivity and don’t understand when others don’t see what we see when it comes to cetaceans. They are just unaware, like we once were! I don’t know what it will take to change the minds of others, but as part of Free the Atlanta 11, it’s my job to try and educate as many as possible! Obviously it’s working! Maybe not in my lifetime, but sometime, we will see cetacean captivity come to an end! I am already teaching my grandchildren that going to any show involving dolphins and whales is not something we support! Without a doubt, they will carry on my fight against cetacean captivity so that hopefully in their lifetime it will come to an end!

    • Not hardly, Becky, as your comment plainly demonstrates. Your passion is a well-spring for those around you, one of which I am so thankful to be. Free the Atlanta 11 – – was born at about the same time that I began blogging. And even though I was not right there at its inception, I am proud to be part of it.

      The mission of FTA11, to heighten, monitor and raise public awareness about cetacean captivity, beginning with those cetaceans closest to us, The Atlanta 11, is at the core of any true change.

      Thank you for everything.

  6. deborah planck

    Thank you for this, I will continue sharing and informating as many people as I can ty again god bless

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