HTML _ 97-517 - Marine Mammals in Captivity - Background and Management Issues in the United States
5-May-1997; Patricia Lawson, Eugene H. Buck; 30 p.

Abstract: Maintenance of marine mammals in captivity is a topic of interest for marine mammal keepers at public display facilities, research scientists, environmental and animal protection groups, government agencies, and others. Holders of marine mammals have a financial stake in protecting animals held captive as part of their research and/or business goals. Taking marine mammals from the wild and maintaining them in captivity were not extensively regulated before the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) in 1972. Later, marine mammal care and handling standards were developed under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). Three federal agencies regulate various aspects of obtaining and holding marine mammals captive for public display, scientific research, or species enhancement (e.g., taking, importing, exporting, care, maintenance, and tracking): the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS, Department of Agriculture); the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS, Department of the Interior); and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS, Department of Commerce). The MMPA also established the independent Marine Mammal Commission (MMC) to provide recommendations on federal activities pertaining to marine mammals, including those in captivity. The AWA directs APHIS to promulgate regulations for the handling, housing, care, treatment, and transportation of animals. In 1979, APHIS promulgated regulations to address the specific needs of marine mammals in captivity. APHIS recently undertook a revision of these regulations (9 CFR 3.100-3.118). APHIS held three Marine Mammal Negotiated Rulemaking Meetings, one in 1995 and two in 1996, to attempt to develop a consensus on proposed regulations and standards to implement the AWA for marine mammals. NMFS and FWS share the responsibility for protecting marine mammals under the authority of the MMPA and the Endangered Species Act. NMFS and FWS have jurisdiction over different species of marine mammals. They are responsible for various permits or authorizations. Proponents of maintaining marine mammals in captivity argue that they provide people an opportunity to learn about these animals and their environment. Opponents of captivity argue that, given the nature and needs of these animals, it is immoral to maintain them in captivity, and that human beings learn very little from captive animals because they behave differently from animals in the wild. Later in 1997, APHIS anticipates publishing proposed revisions to their AWA regulations on the handling, housing, care, treatment, and transportation of marine mammals. The controversy over holding marine mammals in captivity generates public interest in marine mammal policy and is likely to stimulate debate during MMPA reauthorization, which may begin during the second session of the 105th Congress. [read report]

Topics: Marine

Start Over