The Speed of Nascar's Fred Lorenzen, the Brains of Fred Flintstone

i-f4c60fc7b8fe357de4a530edd6d644c6-manateeb.jpg

The month to maim marine mammal legislation...

A symposium at the United Nations in New York last Friday opened discussions about whether the Japanese should resume whaling of humpback whales that travel off the coast of Australia. Daniel Pauly was at the meeting and refuted the Japanese argument that humpbacks have been pushing minke whales (currently hunted) to poorer feeding grounds. Pauly also dismissed the Japanese argument that whales are the cause for fish collapses. The Japanese case to resume whaling was later dropped.

Also last week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service leaked an internal memo of plans to try to demote manatees from "endangered" to "threatened" under the U.S. Endangered Species Act--undoubtedly a move by the Florida boater coalition and Governor Jeb Bush.

Boating groups and developers have lobbied to ease some rules meant to protect the animals, arguing that the manatee population has stabilized and is big enough.

The latest census shows a little more than 3000 manatees, more than double the population in the 1970s. Should the 1970s be our baseline? Should we use it to determine what is big enough? And what about how many deaths are enough? Last year, 416 manatees died, the highest number of deaths recorded in 30 years of statistics. Endangered? What danger?

Florida, your boats are big enough. You drive fast enough. And I think that nature will decide when the manatee population, who had no natural predators until the Florida speedboat came along, is big enough. Manatees generate tourism dollars, adorn the state license plate, and were Florida residents pre-air conditioning. They have been protected by the Endangered Species Act for more than 35 years. When a zoo in Ohio got a pair of manatees for their exhibit they ran big advertisements: "The body of Fred Flintstone, the grace of Fred Astaire." The Florida government and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is demonstrating nothing short of the brains of Fred Flintstone in its attempts to downgrade the manatee.

Categories

More like this

The New York Times reports today that Florida Republican Governor Charlie Crist asked to delay the vote today to reclassify the gentle, gigantic manatee as threatened (rather than endangered). The Governor hopes the delay will give the panel more time to review the issues, including the fact that…
Japan managed to buy enought votes at the recent meeting of the International Whaling Commission to pass a resolution declaring that the moratorium on whaling was meant to be temporary and is no longer needed. The resolution is not all that significant from a practical standpoint - it takes a super…
A little bit of housecleaning here at Shifting Baselines. First, Sea Shepherd, the anti-whalers preparing for their campaign against Japanese whalers right now in Australia, have named one of their two boats after Steve Irwin, the deceased Crocodile Hunter. Over at Grist, Erik Hoffner has a nice…
The plight of just two humpback whales that got themselves lost up the Sacramento River has got the nation transfixed. This sort of thing happens every few years. Back in 1988, it was three gray whales trapped in the ice on the north slope of Alaska. It's curious how we, as in news directors, get…

I think people differ greatly on this issue. For example, if it were completely unidentifiable as my own, I would have no problem with a picture of my naked ass being posted on the Internet. Others would be absolutely horrified by the prospect.

I think people differ greatly on this issue. For example, if it were completely unidentifiable as my own, I would have no problem with a picture of my naked ass being posted on the Internet. Others would be absolutely horrified by the prospect.

I think people differ greatly on this issue. For example, if it were completely unidentifiable as my own, I would have no problem with a picture of my naked ass being posted on the Internet. Others would be absolutely horrified by the prospect.

I think people differ greatly on this issue. For example, if it were completely unidentifiable as my own, I would have no problem with a picture of my naked ass being posted on the Internet. Others would be absolutely horrified by the prospect.