From ANIMAL PEOPLE, November 1996:
South Australia on September 25
proclaimed the Great Australian Bight Marine
National Park. The long discussed park will
bar fishing and mineral exploration during the
six months of each year when the waters are
used by about 60 rare southern right whales.
Federal judge Douglas P.
Woodlock on September 26 ruled that
Massachusetts is breaking the Endangered
Species Act and other federal law in issuing
permits to fishers who use equipment known
to kill highly endangered right whales.
Woodlock ordered the state to develop a right
whale protection plan by December 16.
Hearings on how to protect right whales from
fishing gear were already underway, but
Massachusetts attorney general Scott
Harshburger immediately appealed on behalf
of the state’s 1,686 lobster trappers, likely to
be the fishers most affected. A federal appellate
court upheld Woodlock’s verdict on
October 17. Max Strahan, of Greenworld,
who filed the suit against Massachusetts,
pledged to next pursue a similar case in Maine.
The resumption of commercial
whaling accelerated in late September and
early October, as Norwegian governmental
adviser on marine mammal issues Lars
Wallow hinted that he would recommend the
slaughter of 650 to 750 minke whales, while
hunters from Taiji, Japan, during the week
ending October 11 killed more than 100 pilot
whales––who were misreported as minkes by
the International Press Service. The
International Whaling Commission moratorium
on whaling exempts all the smaller toothed
whales; Taiji alone has a quota of 2,380
whales for the year.
Department of Primary Industries g e n e r a l
manager Dan Currey said on October 16 that
the government will begin requiring the use of
accoustic alarms on all shark nets along the
Queensland coast, to prevent whale entanglements.
Staff of the Sea World Australia and
Underwater World aquariums rescued an
entangled mother humpback and calf the day
before. The job took seven hours.
The only Yangtse river dolphin in
c a p t i v i t y, kept for 17 years at the Wuhan
Research Institute of Hydrobiology in Hubei
province, China, has reportedly recovered
from liver disease and diabetes that nearly
killed her last April. Fewer than 100 Yangtse
river dolphins are believed to survive in the
wild; only one other member of the species,
anther female who soon drowned in the nets of
her enclosure, has been captured alive since
the Wuhan dolphin was caught.
A filibuster threat by Senator
Barbara Boxer (D-California) kept legislation
to repeal the U.S. “dolphin-safe” tuna import
standard from coming to the Senate floor during
the last days of the 104th Congress.
Dubbed the “dolphin death bill” by opponents,
the legislation would have implemented the
1995 Declaration of Panama, bringing U.S.
dolphin protection law into compliance with
the North American Free Trade Agreement
and the General Agreement on Trade and
Tariffs, which forbid use of “process standards,”
i.e. consideration of the manner in
which an item is made, in regulating the
import of merchandise. The “process standards”
principle was written into GATT more
than 40 years ago to inhibit the use of import
restrictions to protect obsolete industries from
foreign competition, but in recent years has
often been invoked by Third World nations
seeking to elude pressure from developed
nations to protect wildlife and respect human
rights. Instead of forbidding the import of tuna
netted “on dolphin,” the defeated bill would
have forbidden the import of tuna from nations
whose fleets killed more than 5,000 dolphins.
It was supported by the Clinton administration,
the World Wildlife Fund, Greenpeace,
National Wildlife Federation, Environmental
Defense Fund, and Marine Conservation
Fund, who argued that netting tuna “on dolphin”
may kill more dolphins than other methods,
but is less injurious to sea turtles, sharks,
and endangered sea birds. Humane organizations
fighting the bill countered that weakening
dolphin protection should not be the price
A of protecting other species.