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US agency rejects Russian whale deal, criticizes Russia's catch methods August 09,2013   |  Source: RFE/RL

fisheries authorities have rejected an application by one of the country's largest oceanariums to buy beluga whales from Russia.

The decision ends a multiyear effort by the Georgia Aquarium to draw a curtain on a de facto two-decade ban on importing wild-caught marine mammals for display.

After "careful review," the NOAA Fisheries regulatory agency said the applicant had failed to demonstrate conclusively that the deal would not adversely affect the population of whales from which the Russians took the belugas, and said it could encourage the capture of more whales.

In a blow to Russian arguments that its captures are humane, the U.S. agency went out of its way to note that five of the animals in question are young enough to have been sucklings when they were caught, probably pulled from their nursing mothers' sides.

The decision underscores a prohibition on the import of whales and other sea mammals spelled out in the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) of 1972 which, with some exceptions, bans the "take," harassment, or import of such animals or related products.

The Georgia Aquarium's application thus represented the latest challenge to opponents of the display of marine mammals caught in the wild, with the last wild-caught marine mammal to have gone on


© Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty © 2013 RFE/RL, Inc.

Theme(s): Fisheries Resources.

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