Uruguay Becomes a “Sanctuary for Whales and Dolphins”

In September, Uruguay adopted law 19.128, which designates the country’s territorial waters as a “sanctuary for whales and dolphins.”

The law applies not just to the territorial sea but also to the economic zone that is exclusive to Ururguay and prohibits the chasing, hunting, catching, fishing, or subjecting of cetaceans to any process by which they are transformed.

It also includes a prohibition against the transportation and unloading of live whales and dolphins, irrespective of whether the vessels sail under Uruguayan or foreign flags. The law envisages penalties for those who do not comply.

Exceptions will be made for scientific and medical cases, providing they are approved by state authorities. The law also takes into account cases of harassment, aggression, or any other mistreatment that could lead to the death of cetaceans.

The law was unanimously approved by the legislature and was promulgated on September 13 by President José Mujica.

The new legislation strengthens Uruguay’s existing conservation policies, implemented by the Ministry of Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries (MGAP) and by the National Directorate of Aquatic Resources (DINARA).

The Director of DINARA, Daniel Gilardoni, declared to the government publication Presidencia that: “For our country the biggest threat is shipping, a good deal of the beaching is due to collisions between whales and ships.”

The newly designated whale and dolphin sanctuary in Uruguayan waters will be economically beneficial, according to an article entitled “Uruguay sanctuary for whales and dolphins: Let the cetaceans come to me” on the blog Ballenas en Uruguay [Whales in Uruguay].

The cybersphere lit up with favourable reactions to the passing of the law. Social media reflected widespread approval to Uruguay’s new status as a “sanctuary for whales and dolphins.”

Source | globalvoicesonline.org