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.
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?
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.