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It Costs U.S. Taxpayers Just 1 Cent a Year to Protect America's Marine Mammals—but Trump's Budget Scraps It

February 22, 2018 in Blogs

By Elizabeth Hogan, AlterNet

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Trump's proposed budget would eliminate the Marine Mammal Commission.

In the 1970s, several species of marine mammals in U.S. waters were at risk of extinction or depletion due to human activities such as fishing bycatch, ship strikes and offshore drilling. Iconic animals like manatees, polar bears and seals faced myriad severe threats.

Out of nationwide concern for the survival and welfare of whales, dolphins, manatees, seals and sea lions came the Marine Mammal Protection Act, signed into law in 1972 by President Richard Nixon. The MMPA's passing was a milestone in marine animal protection. Indeed, the United States has been a global leader ever since in the protection of iconic ocean wildlife.

Because of the MMPA, the hunting and harassment of marine mammals, including whales and polar bears, has been almost entirely outlawed. And thanks to the MMPA, marine mammal species that were facing extinction—like the Steller sea lion—have grown to healthier population levels. Not one marine mammal species found in U.S. waters has gone extinct in the 45 years since the MMPA became law, even as human activities in the ocean have dramatically increased.

Fundamental to these successes is the Marine Mammal Commission (MMC), charged by Congress to oversee the MMPA's implementation.

And the cost to the American taxpayer? Just one cent per U.S. citizen per year.

But this progress may soon be under siege. Last week, the Trump administration released a budget proposal to Congress that eliminates the Marine Mammal Commission altogether.

World Animal Protection launched our global Sea Change program in 2014. Our objective is clear if not simple: to prevent the entanglement of ocean wildlife in lost and discarded fishing gear (known as ghost gear) and provide rescue to the animals whose entanglement we could …read more


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