Description: Challenge to denial of import permit for beluga whales.
Georgia Aquarium, Inc. v. Pritzker
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 09/28/2015 Order Download Order issued. Denial of Beluga Whale Import Permit Affirmed by Georgia Federal Court, Decision Mentioned Possible Climate Change Impacts on Whale Population. The Georgia Aquarium lost its appeal of a federal denial of a permit to import 18 beluga whales from Russia for use in a breeding cooperative and for public display. The aquarium applied for the permit under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) denied the application on the grounds that the aquarium had not provided sufficient information to demonstrate that MMPA import permit criteria were met, including information to demonstrate that the permit would not have an adverse impact on a beluga whale stock in Russia’s Sea of Okhotsk. NMFS’s findings included that in considering impacts on the whale stock the aquarium should not discount other sources of “human-caused” removal besides intentional live captures—possibly including climate change, though FWS said that predicting the type and magnitude of climate change impacts was “difficult at this time.” The federal district court for the Northern District of Georgia upheld FWS’s findings regarding other potential human-caused removals as a reasonable adoption of a precautionary approach.