Thank Agency for Denying Aquarium’s Request to Import Belugas

Target: US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Office of Protected Resources Director Donna S. Wieting

Goal: Applaud the decision to reject Georgia Aquarium’s permit application for the importation of 18 beluga whales from Russia

For the first time in twenty years, a US facility, the Georgia Aquarium, recently applied to import wild caught marine mammals for the purpose of public display. The Georgia Aquarium would have divvied up the 18 beluga whales, which were live-captured in 2006 and 2011, between its own facility and those of its partners, three SeaWorld parks and the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. If the permit had been accepted, this action could have had seriously dangerous implications for the future of wild belugas, as it would boost demand for live-captured whales.

Luckily, NOAA acknowledged this threat, and listed several reasons why the importation would be in violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). In particular the Aquarium failed to demonstrate that five of the whales were not still nursing at the time of their capture, when they were 1.5 years old, and additionally that the importation would not result in disastrous consequences for local beluga populations and the capturing of further whales beyond those authorized. Despite the wealth of evidence that importing these mammals could result in significantly more harm than good for the conservation of wild belugas in the Sea of Okhotsk, the Aquarium has bristled at the decision, claiming that it “places the long-term global sustainability of an entire species in limbo,” which could foretell an appeal of the rejection.

By signing this petition, you will thank NOAA and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), which arrived at this decision through a thorough review of available information, for their dedication to protecting animals who cannot speak for themselves, and for defending environmental sustainability. You will encourage them not to reverse their carefully considered rejection of a permit submitted in clear violation of existing regulations.


Dear Director Wieting,

I am very pleased with the recent NMFS and NOAA decision to reject the Georgia Aquarium’s permit application to import 18 beluga whales from Russia. Not only would transporting these animals so far be traumatizing to all of them as individuals, but the importation also would threaten the sustainability of wild belugas in Russian waters by encouraging their capture for sale and public display.

Thank you for your dedication to pursuing and upholding sustainable and thoughtful policies regarding our treatment of marine mammals, which you have shown by pointing out the clear violations of the MMPA which this permit application represented. I urge you not to reverse your decision in the event of an appeal by the Georgia Aquarium.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: The Lamb Family via Flickr

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