Georgia Aquarium denied permission to import 18 beluga whales from Russia12/08/2013 08:37:03 NOAA Fisheries denies application to import 18 beluga whales for public display
August 2013. Following a public outcry, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have announced that it has denied the Georgia Aquarium's request for a permit to import 18 beluga whales from Russia for public display in the United States. NOAA Fisheries based the decision on requirements of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA).
"The Georgia Aquarium clearly worked hard to follow the required process and submit a thorough application, and we appreciate their patience and cooperation as we carefully considered this case," said Sam Rauch, acting assistant NOAA administrator for NOAA Fisheries. "However, under the strict criteria of the law, we were unable to determine if the import of these belugas, combined with the active capture operation in Russia and other human activities, would have an adverse impact on this stock of wild beluga whales."
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:
Captured from Russia's Sea of Okhotsk
NOAA Fisheries held a public hearing on the proposed beluga whale importation on October 12, 2012. The 60-day public comment period closed October 29, 2012, with NOAA Fisheries receiving approximately 9,000 comments.
Beluga whales are social animals that typically migrate, hunt and interact in groups of ten to several hundred in the arctic and subarctic waters of Russia, Greenland and North America. Beluga whales face a number of threats including ship strikes, pollution, habitat destruction and entanglement in fishing gear.