Whales, dolphins, sea otters, sea lions and other marine mammals evoke a powerful emotion within us to protect these magnificent creatures which call the oceans home. We are dazzled by breaching whales, fall in love with cute sea otters and marvel at how dolphins seem to dance in the ocean.
America’s commitment to protecting marine mammals in federal waters has worked for the last 46 years ever since congress passed the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). No more killing of marine mammals allowed, federal actions in ocean waters have to address the impacts to marine mammals the MMPA requires.
But that is all about to change for there currently is legislation in congress to move the marine mammal protection program from NOAA a science-based agency, over to the U.S. Dept of the Interior, a politically driven agency.
HR 3916 The FISH Act (Federal Integrated Species Health Act) has passed the House Committee on Natural Resources. This bill by congressman Calvert (R-CA) was introduced at the request of U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke who would like to gain control over ALL federal ocean management programs. In fact the Secretary’s’ office is also working on legislation to move the National Marine Sanctuary System also currently within NOAA over to Interior.
“Marine sanctuaries need to be open for oil and gas drilling” the Secretary has often said to me. Continue reading “Tues 5/22: Protect marine mammals against H.R. 3916. (A Letter from Jim Hines)”