The Capturing Of Beluga Whales From The Artic

2542 words - 10 pages

When the name Beluga whale comes up, many think of the popular children’s song, “Baby Beluga”; however, many do not know much past that. Beluga whales, along with many whale species, are regarded anywhere from near threatened to critically endangered depending on their location. The debate now is whether Beluga whales should be able to be taken out of their natural environment and put into aquariums around the United States. Although a few years ago the capturing of wild Belugas has been turned down by the federal government, it is now being reevaluated and may be accepted. Due to the reasoning that this has already been denied and because Beluga whales are close to becoming endangered, they should not be captured and put into aquariums for the enjoyment and studying by humans.
The debate on the removal of Beluga whales from the wild into captivity has been going on for a span of three years. It began with the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, who applied for a federal import permit in late 2011 (Barringer). Their ultimate goal was to buy eighteen Beluga whales from Russia. Their plan was to not only apply for only themselves, but to also apply for the other marine parks and aquariums that would house the Belugas (Barringer). The federal government had to base their decision not on personal beliefs, but on the laws already in place by the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 (Barringer). This act prohibits taking marine mammals in U.S. waters, as well as importing marine mammals and marine mammal products into the U.S, with certain exceptions (NOAA Fisheries). Although the act is clearly stated, there are definitely ways around it. This is one of the many aspects that made the debate continue longer, up until the Obama administration rejected the proposal to buy the 18 Beluga whales (Barringer). If this had been passed, it would have been the first time in more than two decades that anyone has imported marine mammals from the wild and placed them in captivity (McLendon).
Nonetheless, the topic is being brought back up; this time the focus is on Belugas coming from various regions of the Artic, excluding the whales coming from the Sea of Okhotsk, which is a part of the Artic of Russia. Instead, the new proposal is to take the wild Belugas from the Alaskan Artic, such as the Gulf of Alaska. Although this is seemingly against the Marine Mammal Protection Act, many aquariums including the Georgia aquarium have stated otherwise. Gibbons, who is one of the heads of the Georgia aquarium stated, “we strongly believe our application presented extensive, research-based evidence which met all requirements of the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act under federal law”; meaning that although a similar proposal has already been rejected, it is now being reconsidered due to the vast amount of information proving that it is not solely for human entertainment (McLendon). Due to the reasoning that they are arguing that it is also for scientific reasons and protection of...

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