Subject: CRS weekly marine mammal summary to US congress (fwd)

Mike Williamson (pita@www1.wheelock.edu)
Tue, 17 Feb 1998 15:23:06 -0500 (EST)

The following is the weekly CRS marine mammal summary provided to the
U.S. congress, prepared by

Eugene H. Buck, Senior Analyst
Environment and Natural Resources Policy Division
Congressional Research Service


Marine Mammals
        .
        Gray Whale Release.  In late March 1998, Sea World San Diego
anticipates releasing a juvenile gray whale that has been under its care
since stranding in early January 1997.  The U.S. Coast Guard will assist
in the release, timed to coincide with the annual northward migration of
gray whales along the CA coast. [Assoc Press]
        .
        {{Polar Bear Agreement.  In early February 1998, Russian and United
States negotiators concluded a new agreement providing for long-term joint
research and management of polar bears, including permission for Russian
Natives to kill polar bears for subsistence.}} [Assoc Press]
        .
        {Dolphin Protection Agreement.  On Feb. 8, 1998, the 12-nation
Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) reached agreement on
negotiated measures for the eastern Pacific tuna fishery to reduce bycatch,
conserve tuna stocks, differentiate between dolphin-safe tuna and other tuna,
provide incentives to improve tuna skipper performance, strengthen
enforcement measures, and protect and promote recovery of dolphin stocks.}
[Center for Marine Conservation press release]
        .
        {Norwegian Whale Products Export to Iceland?  In early February
1998, the High North Alliance News reported that an Icelandic businessman
has announced plans to import as much as 100 tons of minke whale blubber
from Norway.  Since Iceland is not a member of the Convention on
International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)
and Norway filed a reservation against the CITES ban on international trade
in minke whale products, such trade might be seen as illegal.} [High North
Alliance News]
        .
        {NZ Sea Lion Deaths.  On Feb. 4, 1998, New Zealand authorities
banned visitors from the sub-Antarctic Auckland and Campbell Islands where
more than 1,200 dead Hooker sea lions have been discovered since late
January 1998.  The cause of death of the apparently healthy animals is
unknown, and visitation to the islands was prohibited until it is determined
whether or not any human health threat exists.} [Reuters]
        .
        {Annual Manatee Census.  On Jan. 29-30, 1998, observers from 13
agencies, laboratories, and universities participated in an aerial and ground
census of FL manatees, spotting a total of 2,019 animals -- 907 on the Gulf
coast and 1,112 on the Atlantic coast.  Researchers are optimistic that the
population may be slowly increasing.} [Reuters, Assoc Press]
        .
        {Mass Dolphin Stranding on Cape Cod.  On Jan. 29-30, 1998, 60
white-sided dolphins and 11 common dolphins died on Cape Cod beaches
after stranding.  Cause of the stranding event was undetermined, as initial
necropsies found the dolphins to be healthy.} [Assoc Press, Reuters]
        .
        IWC Intersessional Meeting.  On Feb. 3-5, 1998, the International
Whaling Commission (IWC) held an informal intersessional meeting in Antigua
to discuss a compromise proposal to allow a limited resumption of
commercial whaling in coastal waters.  {On Feb. 6, 1998, IWC delegates
announced that no decision had been made on how to proceed, other than to
continue discussions.} [Reuters]
        .
        Dolphin Release Charges.  In mid-January 1998, NMFS announced
the filing of charges against four dolphin freedom activists for harassing
and illegally transporting two captive dolphins in connection with their
deliberate release in waters off Key West, FL, in May 1996.  Penalties
against those involved total $60,000. [NOAA press release]
        .
        Keiko.  On Jan. 7, 1998, the Oregon Coast Aquarium and the Free
Willy-Keiko Foundation issued a joint statement announcing that an arbitrator
had ruled that the Aquarium should provide day-to-day care for Keiko under
the direction of the Foundation's medical and rehabilitation plan.  {On Jan.
29, 1998, a panel of marine mammal experts appointed by the U.S. Dept. of
Agriculture reported no current indication that Keiko is ill.  In addition,
the panel reported that Keiko appears bored at times lacking socialization
with companion whales and could benefit from some improvement in his
muscle tone.} [Assoc Press, Oregon Coast Aquarium/Free Willy-Keiko
Foundation press release]
        .
        Manatee Mortality.  In early January 1998, FL Dept. of Environmental
Protection officials announced that 240 manatees were known to have died in
1997 -- the second highest annual death count since recordkeeping began in
1974. [Assoc Press]
        .
        Items in this summary are excerpted from a variety of information
sources.  The Congressional Research Service (CRS) is not responsible
for the accuracy of the various news items.

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