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Letter to James Balsiger, Assistant Administrator of Fisheries: Pallone Reiterates Need for Dolphin Evacuation Following News of a Dolphin's Death This Week


Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) sent the following letter to Assistant Administrator of Fisheries, James Balsiger, reiterating his request that the National Marine Fisheries Service work with local wildlife officials to implement a plan to safely evacuate the bottlenose dolphins from the Shrewsbury and Navesink Rivers. The New Jersey congressman believes the death of the dolphin along the banks of the Navesink River yesterday further illustrates the need for the immediate and safe evacuation of the remaining dolphins before the water gets any colder.

Today's letter follows a July 30th letter the congressman sent to the National Marine Fisheries Service requesting that the organization work to develop a plan for the safe evacuation of the dolphins when they were first discovered.

September 25, 2008

James W. Balsiger Ph.D.
Assistant Administrator of Fisheries
National Marine Fisheries Service
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
1315 East-West Highway
Silver Spring, MD 20910

Dear Doctor Balsiger:

In light of news that a bottlenose dolphin died yesterday along the banks of the Navesink River, I am writing today to reiterate my concern for this situation. On July 30th, I wrote you a letter asking the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to develop a plan for the safe evacuation of these dolphins. Though the cause of the dolphin's death is unknown, this event illustrates the urgent need to implement a safe evacuation plan for the remaining dolphins in the Navesink and Shrewsbury Rivers.

It is my understanding that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will continue to monitor the situation and report on the condition of the dolphins. However, in the past, action was taken too late in the season when the water was colder and it failed to save the dolphins. I request that your organization immediately work with local wildlife officials to develop a plan in the next few days to safely evacuate these dolphins from the rivers to their natural habitat in the Atlantic Ocean.

Despite the dolphins feeding on the abundant stock of menhaden found in the rivers, as colder weather sets in, I fear the dolphins could become trapped. I urge you to act now to avoid another unfortunate situation like the one in 1993 when dolphins in the Shrewsbury River drowned as the weather grew colder. We cannot allow a similar incident to happen again this year.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. I look forward to discussing this with you further.


Member of Congress

C.C: Mr. Robert Schoelkopf, Director, Marine Mammal Stranding Center

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