By RussellTenofsky [Admin note: Background to this issue can be found here.\
In August, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) denied The Georgia Aquarium’s permit to import 18 belugas whales into the United States. This week the aquarium filed an appeal in U.S. District Court to overturn this landmark victory for the whales.
The Georgia Aquarium argues that importing the belugas will help to quell the decline of the species. According to their press release:
"Maintaining and studying sustainable, genetically diverse populations of marine mammals in accredited zoos and aquariums is essential to raise public awareness, foster connections and generate insights that sustain conservation-dependent species such as belugas," said Brian Davis, Ph.D., vice president of education and training, Georgia Aquarium.
"The acquisition of these belugas will allow us to continue public education, scientific research and global conservation programs to protect this species for as many as six-plus decades. These programs, and the millions of people in North America who will visit and learn about the species, are of critical importance to belugas worldwide."
Contrary to the Georgia Aquarium’s denial, NOAA based their decision primarily on three key criteria:
NOAA Fisheries is unable to determine whether or not the proposed importation, by itself or in combination with other activities, would have a significant adverse impact on the Sakhalin-Amur beluga whale stock, the population that these whales are taken from; More....