After careful review, NOAA Fisheries concluded that the application did not meet several of the MMPA permit criteria. NOAA Fisheries denied the permit application because:
- 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;
- NOAA Fisheries determined that the requested import will likely result in the taking of marine mammals beyond those authorized by the permit;
- NOAA Fisheries determined that five of the beluga whales proposed for import, estimated to be approximately 1½ years old at the time of capture, were potentially still nursing and not yet independent.
The fact that Georgia Aquarium has challenged the above decision goes to show that they are not interested in following the spirit of the law as stated in the MMPA.
The GA does not guarantee that a whale will not succumb to injury or death during transport and the long transportation is not a humane method to move Belugas who can become stressed, ill or worse during this period.
- Biologist, Permits and Conservation Division
- Chief, Permits and Conservation Division
Michael Payne (Chief, Permits and Conservation Division)
I am appalled at the Georgia Aquarium's decision to challenge the final decision which reflects a disregard for the integrity and spirit of the MMPA and the vulnerability of the population of wild belugas in Russia.
Please uphold your decision; Permit by the Georgia Aquarium to import 18 Belugas should remain DENIED!
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