AWI Quarterly

Congressional Assault on Marine Mammals

he U.S. Congress is currently engaged in a two-pronged attack against the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), one of our most important animal protection laws.

The House of Representatives' version of a Department of Defense (DOD) authorization bill, currently pending in a conference committee (where the House and Senate resolve differences in the bill), would allow for broad exemptions from the law not only to the military but to anyone else, including researchers, fishermen, and defense contractors.

DOD wants to change the MMPA definition of "harassment" radically. Rather than referring to activities that injure, torment, or disrupt marine mammals' behavior, the change would mean that only activities causing "biologically significant disruption" would be curtailed. This level of substantiation is very difficult to ascertain, and switches the burden of proof to the government, which would need to show that the disruption was "biologically significant" before protecting marine mammals.

Another recommended change would eviscerate the MMPA further by removing the two primary limitations on the granting of "incidental take" permits: the requirement that the take be geographically limited and that the numbers of creatures affected be small. This would enable the Navy, or any other permit applicant, to kill or injure huge numbers of marine mammals across the oceans with impunity. This one change in language would virtually destroy the ability of the MMPA to protect marine mammals from being harmed or killed incidentally in fisheries, scientific research, and the deployment of devices such as active sonar and air-guns. Some of the impetus for these proposed changes stem from the Navy's desire to deploy its Low Frequency Active sonar over 80% of the world's oceans, potentially slaughtering broad swaths of whales, dolphins and fish with its ear-shattering 234 decibels.

Meanwhile, a bill to reauthorize the MMPA itself (H.R. 2693) has been introduced by the Chairman of the House Resources Committee, Richard Pombo (R-CA) and the Chairman of the Committee's Fisheries Conservation, Wildlife and Oceans Subcommittee, Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD).  This bill also would amend the MMPA by changing the definition of harassment and weakening the restrictions concerning the "incidental taking" of marine mammals.

Members of Congress should see through these underhanded attempts to weaken protection for marine mammals. Urge your legislators to reject the DOD's unnecessary requests for exemptions from the MMPA and to oppose the Gilchrest/Pombo bill as currently drafted. (Click here for addresses to Congress.)


Buckeye Egg Factory Closed

Fate of 13 Million Hens Unknown

After more than two decades of abysmal cruelty and environmental degradation, the Ohio Department of Agriculture finally ordered the closure of all 90 Buckeye egg factories. Buckeye's demise is due in large part to the persistent efforts of concerned citizens unwilling to tolerate the nuisances associated with animal factories. Buckeye, which confines over 13,000,000 laying hens to battery cages, should be closed by June 1, 2004. However, Buckeye has appealed, and Japan-based Ise Farms and Ohio Fresh Eggs may buy the facilities. The celebration of Buckeye's closure is short-lived if the cruelty to laying hens simply continues under another name.

Of utmost concern is the welfare of the hens. Buckeye estimates it would have to kill 464,000 to 576,000 chickens per week to comply with the order. Humane euthanasia of such massive numbers of birds is unlikely. Or the birds could be slaughtered for soup and animal food. The future looks bleak for most of the birds, but as we go to press, our friends at Oohmahnee Farm are set to rescue 1,000 of the hens. Hopefully, the compassion shown to these birds will be extended to others, who can be rescued or killed in a truly humane manner.

Buckeye's inability to comply with even minimal environmental laws underscores the fact that it is inherently cruel and problematic to confine millions of animals to factories. Compassionate consumers should not support the cruelty of any egg factory. If you consume eggs, please be certain they come from cage-free hens who have access to pasture.

(AWI Quarterly: Summer 2002, Winter 2001, Fall 2001)

The Ins and Outs of the WTO


For more than a decade AWI has reported on the draconian trade rules governing global commerce: the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and the monolithic World Trade Organization (WTO). Meanwhile, we have fought to preserve animal protection rules and regulations against attempts to use trade policies to undermine democratically-enacted humane laws.

The WTO pushed Congress to weaken America's democratically-enacted law barring the import of dolphin-deadly tuna. New Zealand International Exclusive Tours

As AWI prepares to attend the upcoming WTO Ministerial Meeting in Cancun, Mexico from September 10-14, 2003, it is quite clear that our efforts on behalf of all animals are needed now more than ever.

The premise of the WTO and its predecessors is to "liberalize" trade between nations by progressively dropping tariffs and other trade restrictions. However, in an effort to increase the free flow of products across the globe, the WTO prevents import restrictions based on the process by which a product is created and prevents any member country from enacting legislation or regulations that treat one nation differently than another. This has led to a remarkable roster of disputes under the WTO involving dolphins, furbearers, and many other species.

Notably today, as food becomes an increasingly global issue, trade disputes involving the international commerce in meat products have increased exponentially: the U.S. and Australia have complained about Korean restrictions on importing chilled beef; Hungary has complained about Turkey's import restrictions on pet food; the U.S. and Canada have complained about European restrictions on the import of beef from animals given growth hormones; Australia and New Zealand have complained about U.S. restrictions on lamb imports; Poland has complained about high duties imposed on pig meat imported into the Czech Republic; Brazil has challenged Argentina's rules on poultry imports; and a series of disputes have arisen over food from the sea including salmon, swordfish, sardines, shrimp, and scallops.

The Cancun Ministerial Meeting will focus on the issue of agricultural trade, giving animal welfare advocates an important opportunity to advance our cause. The agriculture negotiations, for instance, include expansion of an important concept called the "green box." While the WTO pushes governments to reduce or eliminate subsidies to domestic producers, "green box" payments are certain subsidies that are protected from being cut.

To be in the green box, support must not be trade distorting or only minimally so (cannot give domestic producers an unfair advantage) and be supplied directly from the government to the producer (not costs passed on to the consumer). This enables a government, for instance, to provide support to agricultural producers for pest control, marketing services, and research into environmental programs. Current negotiations include the possibility of expanding the list of protected support to animal welfare programs. A country such as Poland, for instance, could provide financial support to family hog farmers since, in most instances, raising animals humanely comes at a higher cost to the producer. This would help these farmers survive the constant barrage of cheap corporate hog factory products.

The United States Trade Representative (USTR) has not backed the call for increased attention to animal welfare concerns within the WTO (not surprisingly), but the European Parliament has developed a fairly strong position on the subject. On July 3, 2003, by a vote of 297 to 93, the Parliament approved a resolution that "calls for enhanced recognition of non-trade aspects of agricultural policy by strengthening non-trade-distorting agricultural support measures through the 'green box,' to ensure that well-targeted and transparent support measures to promote environmental and rural development, employment and animal welfare goals are exempted from reduction commitments..." (emphasis added).

AWI will push hard for WTO members to include animal welfare protection more clearly during the negotiations.


While AWI staff monitor negotiations in the meeting, Special Projects Consultant Ben White will mobilize the public outside.

After massive protests shocked the WTO to a standstill in Seattle in 1999, the group held its next meeting in Doha, Qatar, far away from demonstrators' questions concerning the extension of corporate trade rules over democracy. Delegates in Cancun will be sequestered in the "Hotel Zone," a 22 kilometer long barrier island of glitzy hotels separated from the city by causeways; hotel workers commute from dusty tenements on the mainland.

AWI again will be the primary animal protection organization dramatizing the way in which WTO policies are disastrous for global humane and conservation efforts. In Seattle, our sea turtle costumes, worn by 240 volunteers, carried the message that no international treaty should have the power to challenge domestic laws protecting wildlife. The WTO initially had knocked down a U.S. law mandating that countries selling us shrimp use turtle excluder devices on shrimp nets.
In Cancun we will march a school of activists in dolphin costumes. You can look for the dolphins on the television coverage of the event… or you can come to Cancun and wear one for yourself!

The WTO embodies a new world order of undemocratic corporate control of commerce. But citizens across the globe are fighting back in defense of human rights, social justice, democracy, environmental safeguards, and animal protection. A new superpower has been born based on fairness, empowerment, and transparency: global civil society. The voice of this unified movement will be heard loud and clear in Cancun.

Playing Russian Roulette With Wildlife Imports The Winner Gets Monkeypox?

Prairie dogs belong on a prairie. It is suspected that captive prairie dogs for sale as pets led to the recent outbreak of monkeypox. USFWS

Jeffrey Doth of International Exotic Wildlife in Houston, Texas is in trouble again. In April, Doth shipped approximately 800 small mammals of nine different species from Ghana to the United States. A number of these animals were carriers of monkeypox.

Follow the trail…. According to the analysis of Dr. Ostroff of the Centers for Disease Control and others, Gambian giant rats were imported legally from Ghana to Texas and then sold to a distributor in Iowa who, in turn, sold them to a distributor in Chicago (Phil's Pocket Pets of Villa Park). There, the Gambian giant rats were housed with prairie dogs and apparently transmitted the disease to them. These prairie dogs were ultimately sold as pets. The disease spread could be enormously vast, however, as Dr. Ostroff notes: "These animals were then widely distributed within the United States and some were even re-exported to Japan."

In addition to the monkeypox debacle, Doth's rap sheet includes getting caught twice for illegal international smuggling of wildlife in a two year period. Then, while supposedly under house arrest in Texas, he went to Florida to receive a wildlife shipment, but he didn't have the proper state license or permits—and the transport boxes happened to contain cocaine in addition to reptiles (see Winter 2002 AWI Quarterly).

One wonders what trouble Doth will get into next.


AWI Quarterly Summer 2003 Volume 52 Number 3

 Summer 2003 Volume 52 Number 3

In 1995, USA Today reported that three-year old Jacob Swartz of Quinlan, Texas was mauled by a cougar. His six-year old sister, Erin, also suffered injuries. This was not some random, unpreventable attack in the woods; the cougar was the family pet who escaped while his pen was being cleaned. The cougar was shot and killed. Though big cats, like the cougar on our cover (photographed by Frans Lanting/courtesy of Minden Pictures), may start out as cute and cuddly cubs, they eventually grow into their wild and potentially dangerous natural selves. Increasingly, people are keeping wild animals as pets: lions, tigers, bears, bobcats, reptiles, amphibians, and rodents from across the globe. It is outright dangerous to keep exotic animals as companions; they can hurt their human attendants, escape and harm other domestic and native animals, and carry diseases such as monkeypox that can be transferred to humans. Exotic animals in poor facilities such as roadside zoos can pose similar dangers as their keepers are ill-equipped to care for these animals appropriately.

The WTO threatens a nation's ability to refuse importation of products of animal cruelty, such as banning trade in eggs from hens trapped in battery cages. Compassion Over Killing

Good news! The recently-concluded IWC meeting established a Conservation Committee and rejected attempts to resume commercial whaling. Jim Nahmens/

Become A "Free Trade" Expert in Ten Minutes!

ust in time for the swirl of activity in Cancun, AWI is pleased to announce a new addition to its colorful and informative brochure series—"Free Trade." The leaflet details examples of the wide-ranging negative impacts of free trade agreements on animal protection and conservation legislation across the globe including the European Union's efforts to prevent importation of furs from animals caught in steel jaw leghold traps and the notorious case involving canned tuna fish and American efforts to keep dolphin-deadly tuna out of the American marketplace. This handy brochure explains how trade agreements work (and don't work) and how conflicts arise with hard-won animal protection laws. Send a self-addressed, stamped envelope for your free copy or download it by clicking here.
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