A US court has overturned a federal ban on dolphin culling, saying the country was “disappointed” by the decision.
Key points:The US court said it was not clear that the law had been applied to other dolphin species in the areaThe decision means the US cannot force the government to stop the cull, and the ruling does not apply to the area’s fisheriesThe ruling comes just weeks after the US banned all commercial dolphin hunting in the South China Sea after China said it would ban it, saying it had no right to do so.
The ruling by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit came after the Obama administration argued that the dolphin cull had been “excessively and indiscriminately applied” in the waters surrounding the South Korean port of Gwangju.
The US ban was implemented in the summer of 2015 after US-based groups such as the Center for Biological Diversity and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) filed a lawsuit against the US government, arguing that it violated the International Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (ITES).
The court in Alexandria, Virginia, rejected that argument and said the law was not applied to any other dolphin.
“It is unclear whether the application of the dolphin control regulations in this case to other marine mammal species was unreasonable, but we are satisfied that the application did not exceed the limits set forth in the law,” the court said.
“We find the application to the Gwangjeong area, consistent with the law, was reasonable.”
The court said the US had a duty to ensure dolphins were protected from commercial fishing in the Gulf of Mexico, where a dolphin cull was in effect in the spring of 2017.
The court did not make any further comment on the ruling.
The International Fund For Animal Welfare and the Center For Biological Diversity had previously argued that China had a legal right to the hunt dolphins, but did not challenge the ban until President Donald Trump signed an executive order in June that halted all commercial fishing.
China’s government had argued that it was necessary to protect endangered dolphins in the North Pacific Ocean, but US courts have repeatedly ruled against the Chinese government.
In August, a US federal judge in Hawaii ruled that the US ban did not violate the treaty and was consistent with international law.
China also has a territorial dispute with the Philippines, which is also a claimant in the disputed waters, and a legal challenge is pending in the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
The ruling in Alexandria was not the first time that the Trump administration has challenged the law in court.
In December, the Trump Department of Justice argued in court that the dolphins culling did not meet the criteria for commercial fishing under IES.
In September, the US Department of the Interior, in response to a request from the US Marine Mammal Commission, sent a letter to the ICC demanding an immediate order that would prohibit the US from applying the dolphins rule in the areas where it has jurisdiction.US officials have also argued that they have a legal duty to protect dolphins.
In October, the president ordered the end of commercial fishing of dolphins in US waters, saying they posed a threat to endangered marine mammals.
The United States and China agreed to close two dolphin slaughterhouses and agreed to cooperate on dolphin conservation in the region.