The Georgia Aquarium has lost an appeal against a federal judge who ruled against the institution importing beluga whales from Russia. The federal court decision upholds the determination made by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in 2013.
However, officials from the Georgia Aquarium – one of the world’s largest – plan to review the ruling and make a decision on further action. In 2012, the Georgia Aquarium filed import requests for 18 beluga whales. The whales were meant to be distributed amongst other aquariums around the United States.
“When you’re looking at the sustainability or health of a population, you want to make sure that the removals don’t negatively impact the ability of that population to be healthy,” NOAA Fisheries’ director of the Office of Protected Resources, Donna Wieting, told NPR.
This is the first time in 20 years that NOAA has denied permits to import wild marine mammals. The Georgia Aquarium has called NOAA’s actions “arbitrary and capricious.” Learn more about this contentious situation in this report by NPR.
Alternatively, check out this story on photographing beluga whales in the wild in the Canadian sub-arctic.
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