Why, after 30 Years, should we amend the Marine Mammal Protection Act?

On the morning of June 10th, the residents of Cape Cod, Massachusetts woke up to some grisly news; another gray seal had been found dead on the beach. While this in itself was heartbreaking, the death was not an isolated incident.On the morning of June 10th, the residents of Cape Cod, Massachusetts woke up to some grisly news; another gray seal had been found dead on the beach. While this in itself was heartbreaking, the death was not an isolated incident.

On the morning of June 10, the residents of Cape Cod, Massachusetts woke up to some grisly news; another gray seal had been found dead on the beach.

While this in itself was heartbreaking, the death was not an isolated incident. On the morning of June 10, the residents of Cape Cod, Massachusetts woke up to some grisly news; another gray seal had been found dead on the beach.

Over the six weeks prior, five other gray seals were found shot to death on beaches from Dennis to Chatham, Massachusetts--bringing the death toll to six.

The staff at the International Fund for Animal Welfare was outraged, and we were not alone. Calls began pouring in, asking IFAW and the federal government to do something to stop the violence against seals. We both responded.

IFAW announced a $5,000 reward for any information that would lead to the arrest of those responsible for the deaths of the seals. Two other groups, wishing to remain anonymous, also offered $2,500 each, bringing the total reward to $10,000. The reward still stands.

Katie Moore, Manager of IFAW’s Marine Mammal Rescue Team said at the time: “We are hopeful that the reward money will help find those responsible and bring an end to the seal shootings on Cape Cod once and for all.” The deaths of these seals are not only distressing, but also illegal. Gray seals are federally protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) of 1972.

To this end, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is currently conducting an investigation into those responsible for the shootings. However, Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown wanted to take it one step further by updating the MMPA, something that has not happened in over 30 years. Under the MMPA as it stands now, anyone who deliberately harms a marine mammal faces a fine of $20,000. In July, Senator Brown introduced legislation, entitled the Marine Mammal Protection Amendment Act of 2011, which would increase that fine to $50,000. This amendment would send a crystal clear message to anyone thinking of harming a marine mammal that continued violence will not be tolerated.

Senator Brown remarked at the time that he: “like many others, was shocked to hear that gray seals were being shot in the head along the beaches of the Cape Cod,” and was hopeful the amendment would help further protect marine wildlife. IFAW carries the same hope. To show our support, Washington D.C. office director Jeff Flocken wrote a letter to the Senate Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard—the Subcommittee that will be reviewing Senator Brown’s bill. In the letter, Jeff, on behalf of IFAW and our supporters, strongly endorsed the legislation and asked that the Subcommittee do the same. IFAW applauds the efforts of Senator Scott Brown, and we look to help him in getting this legislation passed. --BA 

Comments: 2

 
Anonymous
3 years ago

[...] Wildlife Service cannot process the petitions fast enough. The Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) hasn’t been updated in 30 years to reflect appropriate modern-day fines and [...]

 
Anonymous
3 years ago

Where do i sign the petition?

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Dr. Ralf (Perry) Sonntag, Country Director, Germany
Country Director, Germany
Sheryl Fink, Wildlife Campaigns Director, IFAW Canada
Wildlife Campaigns Director, IFAW Canada
Sonja Van Tichelen, Regional Director, European Union
Regional Director, European Union