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August 6, 2013

The HSUS Applauds NOAA Decision to Deny Georgia Aquarium Application to Import 18 Wild-Caught Beluga Whales

Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, released the following statement praising a decision by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to deny an application to import 18 wild-caught beluga whales for public display at U.S. aquariums:

“Trade in live beluga whales is unsustainable, inhumane and archaic. Our nation has maintained a policy of ‘no-wild capture’ of whales for two decades, and there’s no good reason to turn away from that sound policy. We applaud the Obama Administration for denying the permit and hope this sends a signal to Russia and to other facilities around the world that live capture of whales for captive display is unacceptable,” said Pacelle.

The 18 belugas were originally taken from the Okhotsk Sea in Russia, where the whales suffered intensive hunting until the early 1960s. The population is still recovering. On average, 21 belugas are captured from this population every year.

The Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta sought the import permit and planned to transfer some of the animals to SeaWorld parks in Florida, Texas and California. The proposal faced a firestorm of opposition from animal welfare organizations such as The HSUS and Humane Society International. Nearly 9,000 individuals, including researchers and a former Sea World trainer, submitted comments in opposition to the proposal. The HSUS sponsored a petition that generated more than 69,000 signatures, and 45 non-governmental organizations, representing tens of millions of supporters, signed a statement opposing the import.

Background: Read Pacelle’s blog from October 2012 about this proposal.

Media Contact: Rebecca Basu, 240-753-4875, rbasu@humanesociety.org

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