The team from Save the Blood Dolphins arrives in Washington, DC full of energy and ready to speak at the NOAA-NMFS public hearings but first we had to stop by the Japanese, Indonesia Embassies and drop off the signatures for the petitions “Stop the Annual Slaughter of Dolphins” with over 9,823 signatures.
As we arrived at the Japanese Embassy a strong gust of wind blew the officers papers away from his podium, Mila and I helped him picked them up. We made a new friend. (Thank you God of the Wind – Aeolus)
The petition “Dolphins Don’t Belong in Traveling Circus” with over 23,500 signatures also delivered to the Indonesian Embassy.
We are very thankful to each and everyone that took the time to sign these petitions. Then we head out to Silver Springs, Maryland, The NOAA – National Marine Fisheries Service and their Public hearings.
For the first time in many years, a consortium of U.S. marine theme park and aquarium owners —The Georgia Aquarium including SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment , The Shedd & Mystic Aquarium are attempting to import beluga whales that have been captured from the wild specifically for public display.
The travesty of this hearing was totally insulting to say the least of the farce of this public hearing. When we got to the building 2 hours early we find an extremely long line of “paid” line sitters. These people answered an ad from a temp. agency. These unemployed people were paid to hold a spot for executives and CEO’s of the large corporations to the tune of $22.00 per hour!
Michael Payne and Jennifer Skidmore from the NMFS start the meeting and informs those that are in attendance there what the rules are, keep total decorum, no jeering, clapping or disturbing noises. (See image above). The selection process was also a farce. At the entrance we were asked to reach into a brown bag and pick a little piece of paper with a number on it for this was the order that we were to speak mine was #41. What a joke! Captivity Industry spoke first, second and third, so much for a democratic or luck of the draw process.
Mr. Payne informs us at the start of the hearing that only 28 people out of the 100 that were present were to speak. If you had an odd number you were to walk to the left microphone and if you had a even you were to go to the right side microphone. Everyone had 5 minutes to speak.
We heard testimony from both sides of industry pro-captivity – School teachers and CEO’s and anti-captivity heroes, Dr. Naomi Rose and Lori Marino’s statement were also very educational and Samantha Berg spoke about her time at Seaworld and how this would not be educational. Courtney Vail from WDCS also spoke about the dangerous precedent that this permit would be setting. The gentlemen with the light blue to the left of Courtney was our last speaker and most candid. Great job!
Mila de Mier spoke and she says… “we learn nothing if we cannot learn from our previous mistake” her presentation was also very moving.
Sitting with my team…Right to left – Ric O’Barry, Brian Barnes, Sandy Sullivan, Mila Demier. (I am to the right of Brian Barnes) Sandy Sullivan also spoke very well. Now as I wait for my turn. Wanted to give it my heart and soul, to make the difference in this one chance and opportunity.
(I have re-enacted the speech for you until the public record of this meeting become available)
I would like to take this opportunity to give thanks to some one very special, Susan Mabe for it was because of her, that we were able to attend this hearing. She made this happen. Thank you once again Susan.
You can see to the left of the screen in the video- the gentlemen with suits on. They bent forward when Ric was speaking, their smug faces of captivity and the Kool-aid blank smiles.
Oopps.. busted by the security guard – I was still able to get part of Ric’s presentation. I also have another presentation that I secretly taped.
The final tally taken as to how many of us there were to opposed the Import came out to be 12 for the import and 16 opposed. If you asked me which of the presentations made a real point home it was the last gentlemen that spoke against the importation. We all could picture in our mind these poor Belugas sitting in cargo boxes waiting at the airport. Bill Rossiter, Exec Dir of Cetacean Society International, a former pilot who spoke how the transport would be so dangerous. He spoke prior to the CEO of Georgia Aquarium I spoke right afterwards the Georgia Aquarium. I was able to refer on my presentation to Bill Rossiter’s comments on how extremely long the transport would be.
Remember folks that we have only a few days left to continue writing and leaving our comments on their website:
Kudos to all the organizations that were in attendance. Never underestimate the power of people. We made a difference! Special Honorable mention to Jennifer Mishler who was so kind to allow us to deliver her Beluga petition signatures to the National Marine Fisheries and to those special members that support Save the Blood Dolphins.
For the Dolphins, For the Whales, For the World.. Save the Belugas in the Wild.. – Dolphinelle
Update: February 2013- If you go to page 114 you can read my letter. If you read the last comment is one of the best I remember from this meeting – Mr. Tudor (just got his name from the transcript) This gentlemen had just heard about Taiji a month prior to this hearing and he just showed up. His 5 minutes or less were amazing. Please take the time to read it.