Three law experts; Arie Trouwborst, Richard Caddell and Ed Couzens, have recently had their peer-reviewed article published titled: To Free or Not to Free? State Obligations and the Rescue and Release of Marine Mammals: A Case Study of ‘Morgan the Orca’.
The Cambridge Journal Transnational Environmental Law , which has published the article, has kindly provided it free of charge to interested parties. Documents such as these are normally sold to each individual who wishes to download it, so we are grateful to the Editors for helping Morgan in this way and allowing the greater public to be informed.
You can download the paper directly from their website.
The Abstract (summary) is reproduced here. Of particular note is the final sentence, part of which we have bolded. Note that the emphasis is ours.
Wild animals periodically encounter difficulties or suffer injuries that require human intervention and assistance. The natural assumption is that a surviving animal will, where viable, be released back to the wild. But is there a formal legal obligation for a rescuer to do so? This question arose recently in the context of ‘Morgan’, a female killer whale rescued in poor health in Dutch waters. Morgan was successfully restored to full health, but the Dutch authorities subsequently declined to repatriate her to the wild and, controversially, transferred her to a zoological facility in Spain. This article examines the largely unexplored legal obligations incumbent upon the Netherlands in respect of rehabilitated cetaceans, in the process exposing certain problems of clarity and consistency within the present regulatory framework. By necessary implication, this article identifies emerging issues of interpretation posed by the Morgan saga, illustrating the tensions between animal welfare and nature conservation – especially in the transboundary context – and concluding firmly that the Dutch authorities erred legally in making their final decision.
We would like to also extend our thanks to the authors for providing insight into Morgan’s case. Their findings may well take the Free Morgan Foundation one step closer to achieving the goal of giving Morgan her chance at rehabilitation and release.