A significant dispute exists about the size and nature of the plan’s impacts
The true scope of the project is obscured by faulty economic analysis
The Aquarium’s application focuses on a narrow set of impacts, examining only the effect of importing 18 captive belugas. The plan’s critics, applying basic economic principles, reveal a broader set of consequences. Put simply, because supply rises to meet demand, purchasingwild-caught belugas fuels the capture market. Should you choose to grant the Aquarium’s permit, more belugas will be captured to replace the ones imported. Thus, the proper scope of inquiry includes the impact of the capture industry on wild beluga populations.To support their incredible claim that the purchase of 18 belugas – in a market where on averageonly 22 belugas are captured annually
– does not contribute to the demand for future captures,the Aquarium cites Russian capture quotas. Inexplicably, they suggest that because the quotasregularly exceed the number of animals actually captured, the massive consumption of captivestock has no effect on the market.
The Aquarium ignores the effect of demand on supply.In fact, the availability of additional belugas to the Russian captors establishes only that the wildcapture market is best analyzed under the legal standards applied to volume sellers. Volumesellers, such as manufacturers, have the capacity to produce or acquire goods in quantitiessufficient to meet the demands of all buyers. Under the Uniform Commercial Code, § 2-708(2),volume sellers may collect lost profits after a seller’s breach, even after the item has been sold toa replacement buyer. Ordinarily, the profits from the later sale would be deducted from thedamages available. The volume seller enjoys a more generous legal position because every potential sale is significant when surplus stock is available to sell to subsequent buyers.
Neri v. Retail Marine
, 30 N.Y.2d 393 (1972). Thus, the Aquarium’s claim that their purchasewill “not directly result in effects on the [wild] beluga whale stock”
is false. The wild stock will be affected when their Russian captors return to harvest more animals to replace the ones sold tothe Aquarium.
The Aquarium’s denial of the link between display and capture is disingenuous
The Aquarium’s effort to conceal the connection between wild capture and cetacean display isnothing new. In a practice known as “whale washing,” American aquaria attempt to avoid theintense criticism generated by wild capture. Rather than seek permits to directly capture theanimals they hope to display, aquaria quietly facilitate foreign capture. They need only wait afew years before seeking less controversial permits to import these now-captive animals.
3 Application p. 14. (“The average number of belugas collected over the last 5 years is 22.4.”)4
12. (“This importation will not result in the taking of beluga whales from the wild to replacethe animals to be imported. The Russian authorities . . . issue a maximum number of capture permits each year which has ranged from 40 to 57, but that quota has never been fulfilled during this time. . . . It is not anticipatedthat the importation of 18 beluga whales under this permit will result in a greater demand for marine mammals.”(internal citation omitted).)5 Application p. 15.