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State falls short on dolphin tag

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POSTED: April 24, 2009 4:03 p.m.

Philippe Cousteau’s EarthEcho International, Inc. and The Dolphin Project (a non-profit, all-volunteer research and education organization based in Savannah) met at the Georgia Capital on Tuesday, March 24 to promote House Bill 639 for a "Protect Wild Dolphins" specialty license plate.

The funds from this plate would stay in Georgia to promote research and education for Georgia’s wild dolphins. The original Bill passed the House almost unanimously.

Prior to our testimony before the Senate Finance Committee, the Georgia Aquarium added itself to the "Protect Wild Dolphins" Bill for a tag of their own.

Senator Eric Johnson serves on this Finance Committee. Sen. Johnson left the meeting prior to our testimony about protecting coastal Georgia’s wild dolphins. The Senate committee meeting resulted in the tabling of HB639 for review -- to be re-addressed two days later on Thursday.

Sometime that Wednesday night, the "Protect Wild Dolphins" tag was removed from the Bill and on Thursday, HB639 promoted revenue producing tags for the Georgia Aquarium and the Atlanta Falcons, both commercial institutions.

This revised bill with the Aquarium and Falcons tags, which has nothing to do with "Protect Wild Dolphins," passed the House and Senate.

Sen. Johnson ignored a Bill beneficial to the Georgia coast that he apparently represents in favor of supporting commercial enterprises.

All of the other Southeastern coastal states are supporting "Protect Wild Dolphin" tags except Georgia.

NOT ONE coastal senator or representative voted against the revised bill.

The fight to protect wild Dolphins is not over….

Phase ONE: We have obtained a non-revenue sharing specialty plate.

One thousand "Protect Wild Dolphins" tags must be pre-sold to legitimize the tag. Strong support for this tag will show our legislators that the PEOPLE of Georgia believe in this cause. This procedure is required of all specialty tags.

Please go to www.ProtectDolphin.org or www.thedolphinproject.org, download the tag application and purchase a tag to promote the Protection of Georgia’s Wild Dolphins (as opposed to Georgia’s captive dolphins).

Dolphins are a sentinel species. They are the top of the food chain for their environment - which is also OUR environment. Dolphins can be compared to the canary in the mine shaft. If the dolphins are sick, it’s an indication that their marine environment is tainted and possibly everything within it...crabs, shrimp, fish, oysters, clams, even the water itself. We need to monitor the health of our dolphins not only for their benefit but for our own too. Damage to our coastal marine environment will affect our fishing, recreation and tourism industries as well as our food supply.

Phase TWO: House Bill 856 for a "Protect Wild Dolphins" revenue sharing tag is ready to go before the next legislative session. This Bill is once again sponsored by Representative Matt Dollar of Marietta.

The "Protect Wild Dolphins" revenue tag will provide funding to

support long-term research, education and conservation programs necessary to preserve dolphin populations in vital coastal regions of Georgia.

develop accredited courses and training in marine mammal medicine and biology.

develop public education and outreach programs that provide important information about the need and how to Protect Wild Dolphins and preserve the State of Georgia’s natural resources.

create new jobs and bring attention to the State of Georgia’s efforts to conserve irreplaceable natural resources and protected species.

augment regional resources to respond to marine mammal stranding events anywhere along Georgia’s vital coastal regions.

Georgia’s dolphins and their coastal marine environment need your help. We need to show our legislators in Atlanta that we care about our coast and its wildlife. For more information: gadolphin@comcast.net

 

 

 

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