Letter from Jo Anne Johnson
Maui County Councilmember
Suarez- (Miami Mayor's office)
am deeply disappointed with your response on behalf of the Mayor with
regard to the deplorable situation at the Seaquarium and the owner's
insistence on keeping Lolita in captivity. Enough is enough!
Maui County we have enacted a total ban on the display and exhibition
of cetaceans. As the introducer of this legislation, our Council unanimously
voted to ban this type of sideshow and chose instead to allow our visitors
to view these beautiful creatures in their natural habitat.
am well aware of all of the arguments that have been raised under the
Marine Mammal Protection Act and also the position that the National Marine
Fisheries has taken on pre-emption. We maintained that the takings issue
was covered under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, however once the animal
is "taken" it then comes under the purview of APHIS.
issue is not complicated if viewed in pure economic terms. If Lolita has
exceeded the life expectancy of all other orca's kept in captivity, then
value as an "asset" to the seaquarium is likely fully depreciated.
should enact a ban on the display and exhibition, the issue will likely
hinge on economic considerations and the total cost of "damages"
facility. If the economic value of Lolita is "O" then how can
an argument be made that you would be harming the facility in an economic
sense? Perhaps you should charge the owner of the Seaquarium with kidnapping
and holding her against her will and without the permission of her family
and have them look at the costs for defending that case!!! I am sure that
the Humane Society of the United States would assist in some manner and
welcome the publicity.
political will of your local government is the single determining factor
that seems to be lacking. If funds could be raised worldwide to aid you
in banning this type of attraction, would it make a difference to you?
Lolita dies in captivity, will you then permit a replacement for her?
believe you would gain much more support for your local economy by acting
in an enlightened and compassionate manner. We have had thousands of signatures
on petitions and e-mails from all around the world thanking our Council
for this ban. Many of these same individuals stated that their decision
to vacation in our area was influenced solely by our actions.
message has traveled worldwide and is continuing to bolster our local
economy. The fact that Maui has done better than our sister islands is
coincidence. If you were to support Lolita's return to her family can
imagine the press coverage that you would be getting? We are working with
the Boys and Girls Clubs to take the message nationwide that Lolita should
be freed. Will this portray your area in a favorable light? Will it bring
you good fortune?
are the issues that you must weigh when considering the future of your
city. I implore you to consider the huge economic impacts that are dependent
on your success or failure in marketing your local attractions to a growing
environmentally responsible public. Please do the right thing and start
a national campaign to save Lolita. If you lead the charge, it will be
the best thing you could do for your reputation and for your economic
prosperity. You couldn't pay for this type of positive press!!!
Jo Anne Johnson - Maui County Councilmember