The trial on the release of orca and beluga whales

Total allowable catch for orca won’t be set for 2020
Cousteau Team report

The trial on the release of orca and beluga whales

On April 19, a preliminary hearing was held in the Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk City Court on the claim of public organizations ” Sakhalin Environmental Watch”, “Boomerang Club”, “Ocean Friends” and citizens about challenging the decisions of the Federal Fisheries Agency on issuance of quotas for capture of orcas and beluga whales, as well as the inaction of the Federal Service for Supervision of Natural Resource ( Rosprirodnadzor ) on the decision to release animals from Srednyaya Bay into their natural habitat.

The representatives of capture companies, including the director of “Afalina” LLC , A. Reshetov, as well as the representative of the Russian Fishery Agency, came to the court session. Rosprirodnadzor, instead of his representative, sent a petition to the court to postpone consideration of the case.
Petr Savchuk, deputy head of the Federal Agency for Fishery, who was involved by the court as an independent respondent acted in a same way.

♦Recall that the lawsuit was accepted by the court on January 31, 2019, the defendants and interested persons were obliged to submit objections with evidence before March 7, 2019. However, the requirement of the court was timely executed only by the Border Department of the Federal Security Service of Russia in the Primorsky Territory. Russian Fishery Agency and capture companies provided their responses to the lawsuit only on April 19 at the court hearing. The position of Rosprirodnadzor in the case is still unknown, not presented to the court and the parties.

Taking into account these circumstances, the court refused to satisfy the requests for adjournment of the preliminary meeting and continued to review the case.

 Next, the director of “Afalina”,LLC filed a petition for the claimants to return the claim without consideration because, in his opinion, the case is should be processed in the arbitration court, since the economic interests of capture companies are affected. During the discussion of the petition, the parties argued about the ownership of the captured marine mammals – companies, with the support of the representative of the Federal Agency for Fishery, consider killer whales and belugas to be their property, and the plaintiffs, relying on the position of the General Prosecutor of the Russian Federation, argued that the animals are federal property provided to companies only in use for certain purposes.

The court, after hearing the views of the parties, taking into account the substantive composition of the case and the environmental rights and legitimate interests declared for the protection, made a determination to refuse to satisfy the petition of the director of “Afalina”,LLC.

During the hearing, the court considered a number of further petitions of the parties, in particular, the petition of the representative of the Federal Agency for Fishery to question the witness – S. Golovanov, Head of the Department of Science and Education of the Federal Agency for Fishery, who was involved in preparing the decisions on quotas challenged by the claimants in the case. This petition was satisfied.

The parties also argued about the need to involve the Border Department of the FSB of Russia in the Primorsky Territory in the consideration of the case.
It is important to note that in its response to the court, the Border Department fully supported the claims of the plaintiffs and requested that the claim be satisfied, which the respondents and the capture companies clearly did not like.

“In the end, the court declared the case prepared and scheduled a public hearing on May 23, 2019 at 10:30am. It will be held in the Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk City Court.