Subject: CRS weekly marine mammal summary to U.S. Congress (fwd)

Mike Williamson (
Sun, 29 Aug 1999 10:17:22 -0400 (EDT)

 Date: Fri, 27 Aug 1999 15:02:06 -0400


Mexican Salt Project.  On Aug. 23-28, 1999, a team from the United Nations
Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is visiting
Mexico's Laguna San Ignacio World Heritage Site to determine whether a
proposed saltworks development project may threaten gray whales, sea
turtles, and other marine life.  {{At a meeting on Aug. 23, 1999, Mexican
officials told the UNESCO team that plans for a salt-evaporation plant
would not be approved if such a plant threatened gray whales that breed in
the San Ignacio Lagoon.}} [Reuters, Assoc Press]

Dolphin-Safe Lawsuit.  On Aug. 18, 1999, a coalition of 10 conservation
and environmental groups filed suit against NMFS and the Secretary of
Commerce in U.S. District Court, San Francisco, seeking to overturn Apr.
29, 1999 , changes to dolphin-safe tuna labeling standards which they
claim weaken protection afforded dolphins in the eastern Pacific Ocean.
[Reuters, Defenders of Wildlife press release, San Francisco Examiner,
Humane Society of the United States press release, Assoc Press]

Manatees.  On Aug. 8, 1999, a team of veterinarians and neurosurgeons in
Miami, FL, implanted a rod-and-pin system to fuse a manatee's spinal cord
that had been injured by a boat propeller on July 16, 1999, near Fort
Lauderdale.  This was the first time such an operation had been attempted
on a manatee.  On Aug. 16, 1999, the manatee whose spine had been fused
died of complications. [Los Angeles Times, Naples Daily News, Assoc Press,

Steller Sea Lions.  On Aug. 6, 1999, Judge Zilly was scheduled to meet
with attorneys from environmental groups, the pollock industry, and the
federal government, to determine whether NMFS's emergency rule, due to be
issued in late July 1999, should remain in effect or be modified.  The
pollock fishery opens on Aug. 1, 1999.  On Aug. 16, 1999, environmental
organizations filed a motion for a preliminary injunction with U.S.
District Judge Thomas Zilly, seeking to block pollock trawling in all
areas designated as sea lion critical habitat in the Bering Sea and Gulf
of Alaska.  In addition, the groups asked Judge Zilly to adjust the 1999
fall fishing season to keep the combined fall and winter pollock catch
less than 50% of the annual quota.  A decision on the motion is sought
before the fall Bering Sea pollock season begins on Sept. 15, 1999. [Assoc
Press, Reuters, Anchorage Daily News, personal communication]

Norwegian Whaling.  On Aug. 1, 1999, the whaling season closed with 589
whales killed of the 753-whale quota.  Inclement weather (high wind) was
cited as cause for the low kill. [Reuters, Assoc Press, High North
Alliance News, Environment News Service]

Anthropogenic Noise.  On July 30, 1999, the U.S. Navy is scheduled to
release an environmental impact statement on its low frequency active
sonar system, concluding that is will not endanger marine life and human
divers exposed to its pulses.  A series of 5 public meetings will be held
to obtain comments on the EIS, with the first planned for Aug. 4, 1999, in
Washington, DC. [ONR press release, Environmental News Network, Assoc

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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