"Picture This!"

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In 2002, Maui County made history, and a statement, by becoming one of only eleven counties in the United States to fully ban the display of captive cetaceans (whales and dolphins). Bill #64, led by Councilmember Jo Anne Johnson Winer and championed by Pacific Whale Foundation, garnered over 15,000 supporting signatures – a clear sign that the people of Maui appreciate the freedom of dolphins and whales. 

Unfortunately, aquariums and marine parks, lured by prospect of millions of dollars in ticket sales, continue to exploit whale and dolphin species in captivity.  In 1972, Congress passed the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), designed to protect marine mammals from harassment, capture or injury.  While the MMPA makes it more difficult to capture marine mammals in the wild, aquariums may still apply for permits or import animals caught in other countries.

Under these provisions, the Georgia Aquarium has applied for a permit to import eighteen (18) wild beluga whales originally captured in Russia’s Sea of Okhotsk.  Once imported, the belugas would initially be distributed amongst the Georgia Aquarium, three SeaWorld Parks (Florida, California and Texas) and Shedd Aquarium.  The Georgia Aquarium claims that the captive belugas are necessary to maintaining the captive breeding population in the United States, and will contribute to marine conservation and public education. 

Pacific Whale Foundation does not support the captivity of marine mammals for any reason.  We do not believe that the public display of wild animals is necessary to engage people, and instead provides the public with a false picture of the animal’s natural lives.  Captive cetaceans further encourage people to consider wildlife as isolated objects, rather than integral parts of an ocean ecosystem.  National Marine Fisheries Service is soliciting public comments on the permit until October 29, 2012 – act now!