The Georgia Aquarium Will Not Appeal Beluga Decision

by | Nov 20, 2015 | Conservation, Science | 2 comments

belugaThe Georgia Aquarium wont be adding Russian Beluga Whales to its collection. In September, a Judge ruled that the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) properly applied the Marine Mammal Protection Act when it denied the Georgia Aquarium’s permit to import 18 Beluga whales from Russia. The Aquarium had taken the NOAA’s denial to be reviewed in Federal Court, where the denial was affirmed by Judge Totenberg in September. In the initial denial, the NOAA stated that the Georgia Aquarium’s application failed to meet some of the necessary criteria pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act.  Since the Judge confirmed the decision in September, an appeal would be the Georgia Aquariums only recourse from the NOAA decision. However, the Georgia Aquarium has stated it will not be seeking appeal. “We believe we were right but at the end of the day there’s a judge and a court and that decision was out of our hands,” aquarium CEO Mike Leven said in a phone interview. “We’re very sad that it ended this way, but it’s time to move on.” Appeals can be extremely time consuming, taking years before a resolution is reached, and also extremely expensive. Since the process of trying to import the whales began in 2010, the Georgia Aquarium has spent nine million dollars on legal costs, transportation, maintenance and travel.  Additionally, if an appeal was started, the whales would of have to remain in their temporary homes in Russia, suspended in a sort of limbo from finding permanent homes until the appeal was finalized. “It’s in the whales’ best interest to get them into more permanent homes, and the aquarium will help with that as much as possible”, Leven said.

  • Francis Yupangco

    Francis is a marine biologist with an MBA and over 20 years of professional aquarium experience. Francis is the former Aquatic Development Manager at Hagen USA., makers of Fluval brand aquarium products. He co-stars on Nat Geo WILD's reality TV series Fish Tank Kings where he is the resident "Fish Geek" and was Director of Marketing at Living Color Aquariums. He is an avid explorer having visited over 45 countries and lived in 7. At 17, he was among the youngest aquarists ever hired by the Vancouver Aquarium, where he worked for 7 years. His aquatic biology experience ranges from larval fish rearing to the design, construction and operational management of renowned public aquariums around the world. Francis is currently head of marketing at the world's largest vertically integrated fish farming company.


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