From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 1994:
The Marine Mammal Protection Act was
reauthorized on schedule on April 29, including loop-
holes to let hunters to import polar bear trophies and to
allow the killing of seals and sea lions who eat threat-
ened fish runs at locks and fish ladders. Other provi-
sions include a total ban on intentionally shooting
marine mammals who interfere with fishing, and a pro-
gram to cut accidental kills during fishing to near zero
over the next seven years.
The Liberal Party of Canada convention on
May 15 overwhelmingly adopted a resolution calling
for the resumption of offshore seal hunting, halted in
1983 after two decades of international protest. The
Liberals form the Parliamentary majority. Claiming
“the concerns of animal rights lobby groups should not
be put before the concerns of the people of
Newfoundland and Labrador,” the resolution claims
sealing is needed to create jobs because the fishing
industry has collapsed––making no mention that the col-
lapse was caused by overfishing condoned in the name
of job creation by a succession of both Liberal and
Progressive-Conservative governments.

Former Canadian environment minister Charles Caccia, a
Toronto Member of Parliament, was the only delegate
to oppose the resolution. “Whenever we go after seals
we get clobbered,” Caccia said. “We look primitive.”
Five days earlier, Canada announced it would move for
the first time to stop foreign vessels that break an inter-
national ban on cod fishing at the edges of the Grand
Banks, wiping out the fish as they leave Canadian
waters. This was the action demanded last summer by
Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society,
who now faces three possible life sentences for alleged
malicious mischief in steering his former vessel, the
Cleveland Amory, close to a Cuban fishing boat.
France agreed May 20 to enforce the inter-
national ban on driftnetting after the current tuna sea-
son. French tuna seiners have been using 1.7-mile-long
driftnets in the northeastern Atlantic.
Refusing to allow the U.S. Coast Guard to
inspect Taiwanese vessels for evidence of illegal drift-
netting, Taipei instead sent its own patrol boat to the
North Pacific on May 1, to be followed by two more.
Taiwan officially halted driftnetting in December 1992.
The Defense Department has postponed a
controversial underwater test that would generate
repeated 195-decibel sound waves, louder than a jet
taking off, pending a study of the possible impact upon
marine mammals. The experiment was to have been
started this summer by the Scripps Institution of
Oceanography at Santa Cruz, California.
Federal authorities are investigating
reports that Russian walrus poachers are operating in
Alaska, Timothy Egan of The New York Times reported
on May 13. No details were available.
New studies published May 20 by the
Whale & Dolphin Conservation Society estimated that
whale-and-dolphin-watching generates $300 million a
year worldwide. About four million people a year watch
cetaceans, the society said. The industry has grown
fastest in the Kaikoura area of New Zealand, where the
number of whale-watchers has grown from 3,400 in
1986 to 80,000 last year. Whale-watching is worth
$27.5 million a year to Argentina, the society found,
and $21 million a year to southern New England. The
society offers a free guide to watching whales and dol-
phins in the Caribbean c/o Alexander House, James St.
West, Bath BA1 2BT, England.
Marine World of Vallejo, California, and
the Marine Mammal Center of nearby Sausalito
together released a longnosed common dolphin dubbed
Bob on May 9 in Monterey Bay, a month after he
beached himself at Morro Bay––the first time in the 20
years the organizations have worked together that they
deemed a stranded dolphin ready for return to the wild.
On May 13, however, Bob was picked up again, after
apparently not eating. By May 20 he seemed to be get-
ting over an internal infection well enough that plans
were made to introduce him to two other formerly
stranded common longnosed dolphins at Sea World in
San Diego. All three might then be released together,
said spokesperson Rob Iron of the Long Marine Lab, a
branch of the University of California at Santa Cruz.
Sean Van Sommerian of the Pelagic Shark Research
Foundation, which had tracked Bob via a radio tag,
said his understanding had been that Bob was only to
have been released into a pod of other longnosed com-
mon dolphins in the first place. “We did two flyovers of
the bay,” he said, “and didn’t see dolphins, but they
proceeded with the release anyway.”
Captivity shortens the average lifespan of
orcas and beluga whales by 43 years, and the aver-
age lifespan of bottlenose dolphins by 15 years,
Michael O’Sullivan of the Humane Society of Canada
reported on May 19. HSC, a new affiliate of the
Humane Society of the U.S., studied all known cetacean
captures from 1960 through 1992. Since wild cetaceans
die from pollution, driftnetting, and food shortages, all
of which are absent in captivity, captive cetaceans
should live longer, O’Sullivan said. The study found
that the average lifespan of a bottlenose dolphin in cap-
tivity is 14 years; the average lifespan of a captive orca
is 15 years.
People for Animal Rights, of Kansas City,
Missouri, asks that letters of protest be sent to the
Worlds of Fun amusement park concerning dolphins
who are allegedly kept in a small chlorinated pool
beneath a ferris wheel. Address Gary Noble, director of
general services, c/o 4545 Worlds of Fun Ave., Kansas
City, MO 64161.
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