Cetacean Society International

Whales Alive!

Vol. VI No. 2 April 1997

News Notes

Dolphin/Tuna Legislation Update: Legislation to reverse over a decade of progress in dolphin conservation has resurfaced in the U.S. Congress. S.39 and H.R.408 would redefine "dolphin-safe" label requirements on behalf of increased trade under NAFTA, and are strongly supported by the Clinton Administration. Meanwhile, growing evidence supports a bizarre connection between Columbian and Mexican drug cartels buying tuna canneries and fleets in Columbia, Mexico, Panama, and Ecuador, and the smuggling of heroin and cocaine on tuna boats. There is considerable speculation over the potential for S.39 and H.R.408 to increase drug traffic to the U.S. A coalition of over 85 organizations, including CSI, are opposed to this legislation, nicknamed the "Dolphin Death Act". More information about this complex problem and its tangle of international politics and intrigue can be obtained by writing to CSI.

Minke Whale Shot: A minke whale that stranded on Big Pine Key, Florida, in early March was found to have been shot five times. Rewards totalling over $10,000 were offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whomever was responsible for the shooting, and the National Marine Fisheries Service was investigating the crime. As with the shooting of the well known belugas that visited Connecticut and New York a few years ago, this inhumane violence caused an eruption of local and official outrage, and a reawakening to the plight of marine mammals worldwide.

Please Call Congress Now to Protect Endangered Species:
* PRO: The Endangered Natural Heritage Act (ENHA) is about to be introduced in the House. The ENHA would reaffirm and strengthen U.S. commitment to wildlife and protect our children's future. It would conserve declining species, place a deadline on listing decisions for candidate species and provide economic incentives to encourage voluntary conservation. Please call your Representatives and urge them to support the ENHA. The Congressional switchboard number is 202-224-3121. Call today; they are back from recess.
* CON: The Endangered Species Act reauthorization bill drafted by Senator Kempthorne would jeopardize the mission of the ESA to recover species in peril. Kempthorne's bill would reduce the number of species receiving protection under the ESA by weakening delisting standards, tightening emergency listing standards, and by requiring special rules for every species listed as "threatened". Please call your Senators and tell them to not support Kempthorne's bill.

Worldwide Fisheries Crisis: CSI recently joined a consortium of organizations appealing to the European Union to not delay the end to illegal Italian driftnetting. Italian fishermen have flaunted EU laws by using nets up to 15 times as long as allowed, and Italy has sought to delay any EU action. Human impacts on the oceans were highlighted at a February meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. With 30 percent of major fish stocks estimated as overfished, and 69 percent showing signs of serious depletion, the world's commercial fisheries are in a crisis. In 1996 100 marine fishes were added to the World Conservation Union's Red list. Other problems include the depletion of noncommercial species, vast changes in marine biological diversity, an increase in oceanic pollution, and rising levels of ultraviolet radiation due to a thinning ozone layer. One called-for solution was for more protected areas. Currently 1,200 marine parks around the world total less than 0.25% of the oceans' surface, and many still allow some fishing. Understanding the overall impact of human activities on marine life and the future health of the oceans escapes us, but we will not escape the result.

Books Needed: Resources taken for granted by many of us are impossible for others to get. Do you have any books or papers on marine mammals or the environment that are just gathering dust? CSI will guarantee placing any unused books that you donate in the eager hands of specialists from Argentina to Finland, at our expense. Please send a list of what you can spare before mailing anything to us, and we can work out the details.

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