2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 25 Jul 2003 19:17:32 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Beggar is referenced in talks on Marine Mammal Protection Act.
Celebrity dolphin pops up in debate
Beggar is referenced in talks on Marine Mammal Protection Act.
By Cory Reiss
July 25, 2003

WASHINGTON -- A bottlenose dolphin named Beggar got attention from a
House panel Thursday during arguments about changing the Marine Mammal
Protection Act.

Beggar tends to pop up beside slow-moving boats south of Sarasota Bay to
beg for food. Feeding dolphins is one of many acts considered illegal
"harassment" of marine mammals under the law. A public campaign to
explain the law and its penalties has not stopped violations because
enforcement is unlikely, Randall Wells told a House subcommittee.

Wells, director of the Center for Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Research
at the Mote Marine Laboratory, said he supports changes that would make
it easier to punish people under the harassment law.

"The current definition doesn't work," he said.

The House is considering legislation to revise some of the act's most
basic definitions of what people are not allowed to do so that dolphins,
whales, manatees, seals, polar bears, and other species are protected.
Agencies under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration can
issue permits for activities that are not expected to have a significant
impact on the animals, but those can be difficult to obtain. Permit
changes are up for discussion as well.

Environmentalists complained that several of the major proposals would
set back marine mammal protection.

"Nothing will be gained, and marine mammal conservation will undoubtedly
suffer as a result," Karen Steuer, a policy adviser for the National
Environmental Trust, told the panel in written testimony representing
the views of 16 environmental groups.

The current rules, which bar killing, harming, or harassing the animals,
have caused widespread consternation.

The Pentagon wants a lower harassment standard that would make it easier
for the Navy to deploy new sonar systems and that generally would ease
restrictions on military activity.

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