Animal Writes
7 April 1999 Issue

Earth Island Institute & ALIVE Press Release

In July last year, three Japanese aquaria, the Ishikawa Prefectural Zoo, the
Kagoshima City Aquarium, and the Suma Aqualife Park applied for permits to the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to capture up to 24 sea otters, 6 of which were to
be sent to those aquaria for public display.

Opposing comments were submitted by animal protection organizations from both
sides of the Pacific, including Earth Island Institute and ALIVE. In addition, on
August 15, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service was informed that Ishikawa Prefectural
Zoo was not the intended recipient of the sea otters. It turned out that Notojima
Rinkai Koen Aquarium, which was under construction at the time the applications
for the permit were submitted, was the sea otters' ultimate destination. This fact
was completely omitted in the document, and although the Service was urged to
clarify this matter with the applicant, no action was taken.

Despite the convincing arguments submitted by organizations and notification on
the false presentation of a vital fact on official documents, the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service granted the permits for those three aquaria. This was done
exactly 60 days (30-day public comment period, 30-day compilation of comments
and internal evaluation) after the announcement for the application had been
made without even a public hearing.

This grant resulted in an illegal capture of a pregnant female and the death of two
sea otters. 6 sea otters were transported from Alaska to Japan on October 3;
one of the two that were sent to the Kagoshima City Aquarium was found dead on
the morning of October 5, then, another one that was sent to Ishikawa Prefectral
Zoo died on October 9. Both aquaria admit that the long journey put tremendous
stress on sea otters, who are extremely sensitive and intelligent creatures, and
that was what killed them.

Furthermore, on December 29, the female sea otter that was sent to Ishikawa
Prefectral Zoo gave birth to a male sea otter. This made her about five-month
pregnant at the time of capture and this was a clear violation of the U.S. Marine
Mammal Protection Act. This information has also been passed on to the Service
and their immediate investigation is anxiously awaited.

Mark Berman, the program associate of Earth Island Institute's International
Marine Mammal Project, comments that this whole thing is the proof that these
marine mammals must remain in their natural habitat and not sold to aquaria,
which only cause the sea otters early deaths.


Mark Berman
Program Associate
International Marine Mammal Project
Earth Island Institute
300 Broadway #28
San Francisco CA
94133 USA
Phone 415-788-3666 ex. 146
Fax 415-788-7324

Fusako Nogami
ALIVE(All Life In A Viable Environment)
1-20-4-1 Sendagi
Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo
113-0022 Japan
Phone 81-3-5815-7522
Fax 81-3-5815-7542

Earth Island Institute: Innovative Action for...
Email: [email protected] 

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