“Let us not take this planet for granted”;  Leonardo DiCaprio, the environment, and you

 

Academy Award Leonardo DiCaprio wants each of us to wake up and face the challenges of climate change while there is still time.
“Climate change is real, and it’s happening right now,” DiCaprio said. “It is the most urgent threat facing our entire species, and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating. We need to support leaders around the world who do not speak for the big polluters or the big corporations, but who speak for all of humanity, for the indigenous people of the world…and for those people out there whose voices have been drowned out by the politics of greed.”
Washington State is symptomatic of what can go very wrong even in a state that treasures the natural environment when obstructionist legislators are granted access to our country’s highest lawmaking body – and we are just one state of fifty…a fraction of governments worldwide.

J54 and mother, J 28. Photo by Dave Ellifrit.
Endangered orcas. J54 and mother, J 28. Photo by Dave Ellifrit, the Center for Whale Research.

Washington Conservation Voters reports:

“Despite the strong environmental ethos in much of the Washington delegation, overall 2015 will go down as the most anti-environmental Congress in our history.”
…“Once again, too many members of Congress were complicit in extreme attacks on both bedrock environmental laws and more recent progress to protect our air, water, public lands and wildlife,” said Shannon Murphy, President of Washington Conservation Voters.
“Despite last year being the hottest year on record, Congressional leaders put polluters’ agenda ahead of the health of Washingtonians, environmental protections and climate action. This is particularly disappointing from members of the Washington delegation, where we have long had a bipartisan tradition of environmental protection.”
Washington State Delegation Scores On Environmental Issues:
Senate:
Cantwell 96
Murray 96
House:
1 DelBene, 94
2 Larsen, R., 94
3 *Herrer-Beutler, 6
4 *Newhouse, 3
5 *McMorris-Rodgers, 0
6 Kilmer, 94
7 McDermott, 100
8 *Reichert, 6
9 Smith, Adam, 89
10 Heck, D., 97
*Up for re-election in 2016

 
Washington State representatives Newhouse, McMorris, and Reichert all voted to support the odious Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act (H.R. 2406). Herrera cast no vote. All four are up for re-election.
grace_and_leo dicaprio for pi articleLeonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant.                                                                 Photo Source
Washington Conservation Voters continues:

One of the most devastating provisions [of the ‘Sportsman heritage’ resolution] contains several alarming rollbacks of long-standing federal environmental and public land laws including the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Wilderness Act, and the National Forest Management Act.
In the process, it reduces or eliminates important protections for America’s public lands that have been in place for decades.

The African Elephant Conservation and Legal Ivory Possession Act, rolled into H.R. 2406, would halt efforts by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to crack down on the illegal ivory trade, particularly by undoing the restrictions on U.S. ivory imports and exports. African elephants are facing the greatest poaching crisis since the 1980s: more than 100,000 were killed from 2010 to 2012 – an average of one every 15 minutes.

 
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The appalling scale of poaching is intertwined with violent militias, organized crime, and government corruption in Africa. A crucial element of halting this ongoing slaughter is addressing the demand for ivory within our own borders.

Donald Trump Jr. sawed off the tail of an elephant he killed for a trophy.
Donald Trump Jr. sawed off the tail of an elephant he killed for a trophy. (Source)

The regulations proposed by the FWS prohibit most imports and exports, and limit other commercial actions to ivory that was lawfully imported prior to 1990 (the date that elephants’ endangered status was elevated by the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species). Prohibiting FWS from implementing these vital regulations would be an enormous step backward in the U.S.’s response to the wildlife trafficking crisis.

These baby elephants were orphaned by ivory poachers. David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust)
These baby elephants are orphans because of ivory poachers. David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.

“Other provisions in this huge bill would prevent the public from having a say in National Wildlife Refuge decisions, and waive important environmental reviews for this system as well.
Such blind dedication to implementing recreational killing is detrimental to both conservation efforts and the public interest.” Washington Conservation Voters

 

Will we have a healthy planet for future generations? (Photo source)
Will we have a healthy planet for future generations?                                                   (Photo source)

It is up to you whether or not efforts to halt climate change in the next legislative term will be blocked and existing environmental protection will be undone.
You can volunteer, vote, make contributions, raise money, educate – what ever you do, you will make a difference. The choice is yours.
From ReadingRainbow.com
From ReadingRainbow.com

 

The “Unlawful Cetacean Captivity” Bill Makes Sense for Washington, Please Call and Let Senator Pearson Know Your Opinion

Risso's dolphin with Milton Santini, who caught the dolphins used in Flipper.
Risso’s dolphin with Milton Santini, who caught the dolphins used in the TV series, Flipper.

If you have ever dreamed of having your own dolphin or whale, you can still do it legally in Washington State – but you better hurry!  The permitting process takes a while, and the state government is now considering a bill that will close the loophole in Federal regulations that lets anyone who meets basic requirements keep their own dolphins.
The good news is that this Unlawful Cetacean Captivity bill (HB 2888) will not only prevent people from trying to keep a pet dolphin, it will also prevent roadside attractions and hotels from keeping dolphins and whales (collectively known as ‘cetaceans) too. [Please call Senator Pearson,  360.786.7676 and express your opinion by January 25th].
Kshamenk is not a SeaWorld whale, but his circumstance shows what ca
Kshamenk is an a whale in Argentina, but his circumstance shows what can happen without strong laws.

An unfortunate aspect of those privately owned dolphin exhibits is that they can be sold to anyone, anywhere. For instance both Miami Seaquarium (which has the killer whale Lolita, captured in Washington) and Sea Life Park in Hawaii are owned by a company in Spain, Parques Renunidos – technically they could ship Lolita or any of the cetaceans off to any of their dozen marine parks, worldwide.
Passing this bill will also make good economic sense for Washington  – it will save the headache and cost of permitting and overseeing the construction and maintenance of captive dolphin facilities, of addressing animal rights concerns, as well as the issue of having the federal government looking over the shoulder of the state to make sure that federal guidelines, as weak as they are, are met.
 
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Photo courtesy of the Center for Whale Research.

Washington state is also fully committed to maintaining and improving the enjoyment of wildlife and has successfully balanced the needs of outdoor enthusiasts, environmentalists, hunters, and fisheries and this bill definitely reflects the state’s willingness to juggle opposing interests.
From Economic Analysis of Outdoor Recreation in Washington State January 2015:

“Outdoor recreation markets bridge urban and rural communities. Outdoor recreation provides opportunities for physical exercise, which keeps us healthy. Indeed, the recreation market is unquestionably one of the largest markets in the state for moving income from urban to rural areas and building sustainable jobs in rural Washington State. Most outdoor recreation related expenditures trickle down to local economic sectors. Overall, investment in outdoor recreation infrastructure yields high returns throughout the entire state.”

In part because the state has done a good job in addressing the condition of Puget Sound and the greater Salish Sea the abundance of cetaceans has increased to the point that we have gray whales coming close to shore and the stunning humpback whales have visited in increasing numbers. We can easily enjoy them from the shoreline or on whale watching vessels (which is a growing industry that brings economic gain to other businesses as well).

The Center for Whale Research has studied the Southern Resident orcas for almost forty years.
The Center for Whale Research has studied the Southern Resident orcas for almost forty years.

The endangered local population of killer whales has had a baby boom recently, and the state’s management of salmon will help insure that those whales have enough to eat going into the future while still leaving enough for anglers to enjoy.
There are no captive cetaceans in Washington State and there haven’t been for years so there are no negative consequences to any existing business.
Passing this bill is just good sense (and good cents), so please call Senator Pearson (who will decide in the coming days if the bill should go through to the next step in the Senate) and ask him to put the bill through so that the public can make comments.
[Please call Senator Pearson,  360.786.7676 by January 25th].
The bill, HB 2228:

Washington State House of Representatives Office of Program Research BILL ANALYSIS Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee HB 2888
Brief Description: Concerning cetacean captivity.
Sponsors: Representatives Van De Wege, Pettigrew, Stanford, Morris, Kuderer, S. Hunt, Appleton, Peterson, Fitzgibbon, Hurst, Pollet and Farrell.
Brief Summary of Bill Ÿ Ÿ
Creates the Fish and Wildlife Code offense of Unlawful Cetacean Captivity as a gross misdemeanor. Prescribes penalties for an Unlawful Cetacean Captivity violation of $5,000 or imprisonment for not more than 364 days, or both. Hearing Date: 2/2/16 Staff: Rebecca Lewis (786-7339).
Background: Cetaceans are aquatic, marine mammals, including whales, dolphins, and porpoises. The federal Marine Mammal Protection Act prohibits, with certain exceptions, the taking of marine mammals in United States waters and by United States citizens on the high seas, and the importation of marine mammals and marine mammal products into the United States.
Permits and exemptions allow for incidental takes, scientific research, and for first-time import or capture of wild marine animals for public display. Under state law, it is a natural resource infraction to cause a vessel to approach or be in the path of a southern resident Orca whale (Orca). It is also an infraction to feed an Orca or fail to disengage the transmission of a vessel within 200 yards of an Orca. There are a few exceptions, including: engaging in a treaty Indian or commercial fishing operation that is actively setting, retrieving, or closely tending fishing gear; engaging in rescue of a beached Orca overseen, ––––––––––––––––––––––
This analysis was prepared by non-partisan legislative staff for the use of legislative members in their deliberations. This analysis is not a part of the legislation nor does it constitute a statement of legislative intent. House Bill Analysis – 1 – HB 2888 authorized, or coordinated by a volunteer stranding network; or engaging in an activity permitted by the Department of Fish and Wildlife or the National Marine Fisheries Service. Summary of Bill: The Fish and Wildlife Code offense of Unlawful Cetacean Captivity is created.
The following acts each constitute Unlawful Cetacean Captivity: Ÿ Ÿ Ÿ Ÿ holding a wild-caught or captive-bred cetacean in captivity for performance or entertainment purposes; capturing or importing into the state a wild-caught or captive-bred cetacean with the intention of using the cetacean for performance or entertainment purposes; breeding a cetacean in captivity; or importing, exporting, or collecting semen, other gametes, or embryos of a cetacean for the purpose of artificial insemination.
A person may lawfully hold a cetacean for rehabilitation, rescue or stranding, or research purposes. If possible, a person or entity holding a cetacean for rehabilitation or research purposes must return the cetacean to the wild. If it is not possible to return the cetacean to the wild, the person or entity must hold the cetacean at a location approved by the National Marine Fisheries Service and may not use the cetacean for performance or entertainment purposes.
A violation of Unlawful Cetacean Captivity is a gross misdemeanor and is punishable upon conviction by a fine of not more than $5,000 or by imprisonment of not more than 364 days, or both.
Appropriation: None.