Subject: Dolphin: Fine for Feeding

Mike Williamson (pita@www1.wheelock.edu)
Thu, 22 Jul 1999 11:11:17 -0400 (EDT)

Date: Tue, 20 Jul 1999 16:14:20 -0700
From: MARMAM Editors <marmamed@UVic.CA>
Reply-To: Marine Mammals Research and Conservation Discussion
     <MARMAM@UVVM.UVIC.CA>
To: MARMAM@UVVM.UVIC.CA
Subject: NOAA Press Release - Judge Fines $4,500 for Dolphin Feeding (fwd)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Trevor Spradlin <Trevor.Spradlin@noaa.gov>
NMFS Office of Protected Resources

***********************************

UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE NEWS
Washington, D.C. 20230

NOAA 99-R143        FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE       7/19/99


Judge Fines Panama City Boat Rental Company and Operator $4,500 for
Illegally Feeding Dolphins

Panama City, Fla. -- Federal Administrative Law Judge Parlen McKenna
upheld a $4,500 fine against a Panama City boat rental company and its
boat operator for illegally feeding wild dolphins.  The incident occurred
during a June 1998 excursion off Panama City=C6s Shell Island and nearby
jetty, a destination popular with residents and tourists for feeding the
local dolphin population, the federal National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration said today.

NOAA charged Hathaway's Boat Rentals, Inc. and vessel captain Thomas E.
Rainelli, with five counts of harassing or attempting to harass wild
dolphins by feeding or attempting to feed the animals cigar minnows during
a June 17, 1998 parasail boat trip.  Hathaway's Boat Rentals, Inc. also
sold the minnows that were used to feed the dolphins.

Ruling from the bench Judge McKenna called the charges "serious," and
upheld the NOAA charges and requested sanction of $4,500.  The judge also
ordered Hathaway=C6s Boat Rentals, Inc. to post a federal "no dolphin
feeding" sign and a poster on the grounds and counter of its facility. The
Hathaway's Boat Rentals, Inc. and Rainelli may divide the payment of the
$4,500 penalty as they choose.

In addition, the judge found that Rainelli was operating under a U.S.
Coast Guard license, and as such, charges will be brought against him in a
separate proceeding for these violations since he was acting under the
authority of his Coast Guard license.

"We are pleased that the charges were upheld and with the sanctions
imposed by Judge McKenna," said Karen Antrim Raine, NOAA attorney in
charge of the prosecution.  "This case sends a strong message that it is a
federal violation to feed wild dolphins.  The Florida Marine Patrol did an
outstanding job in making this case, and we are extremely appreciative of
NOAA Law Enforcement for its investigation and NOAA=C6s Office of Protected
Resources for its support."

NOAA attorneys originally charged a total of $5,000 against four parties
involved in the June 17, 1998 violation, but dismissed the case against
Tropical Parasail and settled with boat crew member Chanti Hance for $500. =
=20
Hathaway's Boat Rentals, Inc. and Thomas Rainelli chose not to settle and
pursued the option of the civil hearing.  The two parties have the option
to appeal the ruling.

"We hope that commercial operators who take tourists out to view wild
dolphins will do so responsibly by keeping a safe distance of 50 yards
from the animals and by supporting the law prohibiting dolphin feeding,"
said Ann Terbush, chief of the Permits Division in the Office of Protected
Resources for NOAA=C6s National Marine Fisheries Service.  "For several
years, we have included local communities in Florida, particularly Panama
City, in our education campaign to prevent harassment and feeding of wild
dolphins.  Since most tourists do not know about marine mammal protection
laws or how to view wildlife appropriately, it is imperative that
professional tour guides and businesses abide by law and educate their
patrons."

NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service is an agency of the Commerce
Department. NOAA Fisheries is dedicated to protecting and preserving our
nation=C6s living marine resources through scientific research, management,
enforcement, and the conservation of marine mammals and other protected
marine species and their habitat.


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