abuse of scientific permits

Jamie D. Bechtel warrior at bu.edu
Mon Feb 14 03:00:29 EST 2000

I wanted to address the issue of scientific permits as an exception to
international treaties through the classic example of Japan and the
international moratorium on whaling as implemented by the IWC. In 1996, the
Institute of Ceteaceous Research [of Japan] harvested about 965 whales
under a scientific permit clause. The institute received over 35 million
dollars for the sale of whale meat. 

Regarding scientific permits and CITES, the national authority may choose
to waive permit requirements for species used in scientific research or for
travelling zoos, circus, or exhibition. The authority in the US is US Fish
and Wildlife Service.  However, I hasten to point out that our system here
is not without abuse.  The Smithsonian has been under fire recently for
accepting a large cash donation from a wealthy big game hunter, and
subsequently allowing the import of rare game that the same donor has
hunted and killed.  These "trophies", many of which are endangered species,
are legally imported under the science permit and are to be displayed in
the new wing at the museum. A gross abuse of permitting under the auspice
of science. 

These examples speak for themselves. 

CITES (note: circa 1973) is one of the most powerful weapons we have.  if
not for its primia facia strength, then for the fact that it is a globally
accepted document indicating that the protection of endangered species is
held as a priority for a vast majority of the states.  globally we agree on
almost nothing. in perspective, the widespread acceptance of CITES by the
world's governments, borders on a miracle...enforcement is another issue.
because of this global acceptance, CITES provides leverage in the supreme
courts throughout the world. often times, the strength of an international
treaty comes in the ability of a court to find based on the intent of
federal lawmakers and global acceptance (common law). For what it is worth,
 CITES is the foundational authority to our endangered species act. without
the former we would likely not have the latter.  

realizing i am likely to come under rapid fire for the following
thought...i think it is essential for us to recognize that we are not alone
in our battle, and question before criticism may benefit the cause.


Jamie D. Bechtel	
Boston University		Boston College Law School
Department of Biology		885 Centre Street
5 Cummington Street		Newton, MA 02159
Boston, MA 02215		bechtelj at bc.edu

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