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To Free or Not to Free? State Obligations and the Rescue and Release of Marine Mammals: A Case Study of ‘Morgan the Orca’

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 January 2013

Arie Trouwborst
Department of European and International Public Law, Tilburg Law School, The Netherlands. Email:
Richard Caddell
Institute of International Shipping and Trade Law, School of Law, Swansea University, United Kingdom (UK). Email:
Ed Couzens
School of Law, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Email:


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.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2013

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2 ‘Oregonians Bid Farewell to Keiko’, Associated Press, 21 Feb. 2004.

3 Norwegian MP Steinar Bastesen, cited in M. McCarthy, ‘Turn Keiko into Meatballs’, The Independent, 15 Sept. 1998.

4 The following factual account draws upon N. van Elk et al., ‘Expert Advice on the Releasibility of the Rescued Killer Whale (Orcinus orca) Morgan’ (Dolfinarium Harderwijk and SOS Dolfijn, 14 Nov. 2010), available at:

5 Within the order Cetacea, the species killer whale (or orca) belongs to the suborder of the toothed whales (Odontoceti), and is the largest representative within the latter of the family Delphinidae. The species is currently listed as ‘Data Deficient’ on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, meaning that insufficient data is available accurately to assess its global conservation status: ‘Orcinus orca’, IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, available at:

6 See Camphuysen, K. & Peet, G., Walvissen en Dolfijnen in de Noordzee (Fontaine Uitgevers/North Sea Foundation, 2006), at pp. 134–7.Google Scholar

7 Netherlands Ministries were restructured in 2010; this body is now the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation (EL&I).

8 Free Morgan Foundation, ‘Morgan’s Extended Family has been Identified Acoustically’, 30 Sept. 2011, available at

9 Van Elk, n. 4 above.

10 See Bisther, A. & Vongraven, D., ‘Studies of the Social Ecology of Norwegian Killer Whales (Orcinus orca)’ (1995) 4 Developments in Marine Biology, pp. 169–76.Google Scholar

11 Van Elk, n. 4 above, at p. 28.

12 Free Morgan Expert Panel and Free Morgan Release support group, ‘Suggestions for Returning “Morgan” the Orca (Killer Whale) to a Natural Life in the Ocean’, 3 Nov. 2010, at p. 3, available at:

13 Ibid.

14 I.N. Visser & T.M. Hardie, ‘“Morgan” the Orca Can and Should Be Rehabilitated: With Additional Notes on Why a Transfer to Another “Captive Orca Facility” is Inappropriate and Release is Preferred’, Orca Research Trust, July 2011, available at:

15 K. Camphuysen, ‘Laat Zo’n Dwaalgast Rustig Sterven’, NRC Handelsblad, 10 Sept. 2011 (translation from Dutch by present authors).

16 On the case against the anthropogenic exploitation of cetaceans, see Simmonds, M.P., ‘Into the Brains of Whales’ (2006) 100(1) Applied Animal Behaviour Science, pp. 103–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

17 Moore, M. et al. ., ‘Rehabilitation and Release of Marine Mammals in the United States: Risks and Benefits’ (2007) 23(4) Marine Mammal Science, pp. 731–50, at 732–3.Google Scholar

18 Simmonds, n.1 above, at p. 63. The animal did not survive.

19 Wilkinson, D. & Worthy, G.A.J., ‘Marine Mammal Stranding Networks’, in Twiss, J.R. Jr. & Reeves, R.R. (eds.), Conservation and Management of Marine Mammals (Smithsonian Institution Press, 1999), pp. 396411Google Scholar, at 401.

20 Moore et al., n. 17 above, at p. 734.

21 Ibid., at pp. 740–1; see also Quakenbush, L., Beckmen, K. & Brower, C.D.N., ‘Rehabilitation and Release of Marine Mammals in the United States: Concerns from Alaska’ (2009) 25(4) Marine Mammal Science, pp. 994–9.Google Scholar

22 D.J. St. Aubin, J.R. Geraci & V.J. Lounsbury, ‘Rescue, Rehabilitation, and Release of Marine Mammals: An Analysis of Current Views and Practices’, NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-OPR-8, July 1996, at pp. 16–7, available at

23 IUCN, Guidelines for Reintroductions (IUCN, 1998)Google Scholar. The Guidelines are prepared in the context of reintroducing species into areas of historical coverage, but provide lessons of broad applicability to the present context.

24 On the legal protection of species in the North Sea generally, see Trouwborst, A. & Dotinga, H.M., ‘Comparing European Instruments for Marine Nature Conservation: The OSPAR Convention, the Bern Convention, the Birds and Habitats Directives, and the Added Value of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive’ (2011) 20(4) European Energy and Environmental Law Review, pp. 129–49CrossRefGoogle Scholar, at 132–43. For a more extensive analysis of the legal protection of marine species in the Netherlands, see H.M. Dotinga & A. Trouwborst, ‘Juridische Bescherming van Biodiversiteit in de Noordzee’, CELP/NILOS, 2008, pp. 112–54, available at:

25 Montego Bay (Jamaica), 10 Dec. 1982, in force 16 Nov. 1994 (28 July 1996 for the Netherlands), available at:

26 This provision applies mutatis mutandis to the high seas by virtue of Art. 120. Since the animal was retrieved from Dutch jurisdictional waters, the pertinent provision to Morgan will be Art. 65 UNCLOS.

27 Schiffman, H.S., ‘The Competence of Pro-Consumptive International Organizations to Regulate Cetacean Resources’, in Burns, W.C.G. & Gillespie, A. (eds.), The Future of Cetaceans in a Changing World (Transnational, 2003), pp. 159–85CrossRefGoogle Scholar, at 168–72.

28 Birnie, P.W., ‘Marine Mammals: Exploiting the Ambiguities of Article 65 of the Convention on the Law of the Sea and Related Provisions: Practice under the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling’, in Freestone, D., Barnes, R. & Ong, D. (eds.), The Law of the Sea: Progress and Prospects (Oxford University Press, 2006), pp. 261–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

29 See MacDorman, T.L., ‘Canada and Whaling: An Analysis of Article 65 of the Law of the Sea Convention’ (1998) 29(1) Ocean Development and International Law, pp. 179–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

30 Caron, D.D., ‘The International Whaling Commission and the North Atlantic Marine Mammal Commission: The Institutional Risks of Coercion in Consensual Structures’ (1995) 89 American Journal of International Law, pp. 154–73CrossRefGoogle Scholar. One potential alternative forum was created in 1992 – the North Atlantic Marine Mammal Commission (NAMMCO), available at:

31 Bonn (Germany), 23 June 1979, in force 1 Nov. 1983 (also for the Netherlands), available at:

32 Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), 5 June 1992, in force 29 Dec. 1993 (10 Oct. 1994 for the Netherlands), available at:

33 Art. 2, ibid., defines this as ‘the variability among living organisms from all sources including, inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part; this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems’.

34 CBD, n. 32 above, Art. 1.

35 Ibid., Art. 8(d), (f) and (k).

36 Ibid., Art. 2.

37 Ibid.

38 Ibid., Art. 9(c).

39 Ibid., Art. 9. On this inter-relationship see Harrop, S., ‘Climate Change, Conservation and the Place for Wild Animal Welfare in International Law’ (2011) 23(3) Journal of Environmental Law, pp. 441–62Google Scholar, at 450–4.

40 Washington, DC (US), 2 Dec. 1946, in force 10 Nov. 1948 (14 June 1977 for the Netherlands), available at:

41 Ibid., Preamble.

42 See Burns, W.C.G., ‘The Berlin Initiative on Strengthening the Conservation Agenda of the International Whaling Commission: Toward a New Era for Cetaceans’ (2004) 13(1) Review of European Community and International Environmental Law, pp. 7284.Google Scholar

43 In 1977, a definition of the species was included in the Schedule, which is an integral part of the Convention Schedule, para. 1(B): ‘“killer whale” (Orcinus orca) means any whale known as killer whale or orca’.

44 ICRW, n. 40 above, Schedule, para. 10(d) (emphasis added).

45 Besides the formulation of para. 10(d) itself, which concerns actions by whalers, para. 1(C) points in the same direction by establishing that ‘“take” means to flag, buoy or make fast to a whale catcher’.

46 Reeves, R.R., Smith, B.D., Crespo, E.A. & Notarbartolo di Sciara, G., Dolphins, Whales and Porpoises: 2002–2010 Conservation Action Plan for the World’s Cetaceans (IUCN, 2003), at p. 43.Google Scholar

47 Washington, DC (US), 3 Mar. 1973, in force 1 July 1975 (18 July 1984 for the Netherlands), available at: http// Orcas are listed in Appendix II.

48 See Fisher, S.J. & Reeves, R.R., ‘Global Trade in Live Cetaceans: Implications for Conservation’ (2005) 8(4) Journal of International Wildlife Law and Policy, pp. 315–40.Google Scholar

49 CITES, n. 47 above, Art. II(1). From the perspective of marine mammals, this Appendix lists mainly the great whales.

50 Ibid., Arts. II(2) and IV. All cetaceans not listed in Appendix I are so designated, alongside seals, dugongs and manatees.

51 [1997] OJ L61/1.

52 Ibid., Arts. 8 and 9.

53 Resolution Conf. 10.7: Disposal of confiscated live specimens of species included in the Appendices, available at:

54 Wet houdende regels ter bescherming van in het wild levende planten- en diersoorten, 25 May 1998, Staatsblad 1998, 402. For a full appraisal of the Dutch legal context, see Trouwborst, A., ‘De Troebele Regels rond de Opvang van Zeezoogdieren: Een Analyse aan de Hand van de Casus van Orka “Morgan”’ (2011) 38(10) Milieu en Recht, pp. 653–68.Google Scholar

55 Exemption FF/75A/2008/064, 3 Feb. 2009 (translation by present authors; the original phrasing is: ‘onderzoek en bescherming van flora en fauna, te weten opvang, revalidatie en het terugzetten in de vrije natuur’). The exemption is valid for five years and is based on Art. 75 of the Flora and Fauna Act, providing derogations from Arts. 9, 10 and 13(1) of the Act.

56 On these instruments, see below (Sections 4.2., 4.1. and 3.5., respectively, in text).

57 Exemption FF/75A/2008/064, n. 55 above, paras 8 and 9 (translation by present authors).

58 Van Elk, n. 4 above, at p. 5.

59 See, e.g., letter by State Secretary Bleker to the Dutch Parliament, 25 Mar. 2011, Kamerstukken II, 2010–2011, 28 286, nr. 496.

60 Questions MP Ouwehand on the situation of the rescued Orcinus orca, 25 June 2010, and answers Minister Verburg, 13 July 2010, Aanhangsel Handelingen II, 2009–2010, nr. 2882; questions MP Ouwehand on the release of killer whale Morgan, 14 Mar. 2011, and answers State Secretary Bleker, 21 Apr. 2011, Aanhangsel Handelingen II, 2010–2011, nr. 2299; questions MP Ouwehand on disclosure of data on the rescued killer whale Morgan, 29 Apr. 2011, and answers State Secretary Bleker, 25 May 2011, Aanhangsel Handelingen II, 2010–2011, nr. 2635.

61 Motion MP Ouwehand, 22 June 2011, Kamerstukken II, 2010–2011, 28 973, nr. 53.

62 Art. III(2).

63 [1992] OJ L206/7.

64 CITES Regulation, n. 51 above, Art. 8(3), chapeau and under (g).

65 Exemption FF/75A/2008/064, n. 55 above, para. 13: ‘[t]he exemption for bringing the animals [to which the exemption applies] within or outside the territory of the Netherlands is valid only if prior approval for this has been granted by the competent authorities of the countries involved, and the necessary CITES documents have been provided’ (translation by present authors).

66 Decision to grant EU certificate 11NL114808/20, 27 July 2011, p. 4 (translation by present authors).

67 Rechtbank Amsterdam, joined cases AWB 11/3441 BESLU and AWB 11/3640 BESLU, 3 Aug. 2011.

68 Ibid. (translation by present authors).

69 Ibid.

70 Ibid.

71 Ibid.

72 Written question P-009807/2011 concerning the export of a wild orca from the Netherlands to a Spanish theme park, 25 Oct. 2011 (K. Arsenis).

73 Rechtbank Amsterdam, joined cases AWB 11/5033 BESLU and AWB 11/5035 BESLU, 21 Nov. 2011.

74 Ibid., para. 4.7 (translation by present authors).

75 Ibid.

76 Ibid., para. 4.6 (translation by present authors).

77 Ibid., paras 4.8–4.11 (translation by present authors).

78 Ibid., para. 5.8 (emphasis added).

79 Exemption FF/75A/2008/064, n. 55 above, para. 8.

80 CITES Regulation, n. 51 above, Art. 11(2)(a).

81 N. 31 above.

82 See Caddell, R., ‘International Law and the Protection of Migratory Wildlife: An Appraisal of Twenty-Five Years of the Bonn Convention’ (2005) 16 Colorado Journal of International Environmental Law and Policy, pp. 113–56.Google Scholar

83 Defined as being ‘the entire population or any geographically separate part of the population of any species or lower taxon of wild animals, a significant proportion of whose members cyclically and predictably cross one or more national jurisdictional boundaries’: CMS, n. 31 above, Art. I(1)(a). This remains a rather artificial definition: the fact that particular species may frequently cross human-established frontiers does not necessarily mean that it is inherently migratory in nature.

84 Ibid., Art. II(2).

85 Ibid., Art. II(3)(a).

86 Ibid., Art. II(3)(b). This entails a series of commitments to conserve and restore habitats, regulate activities or obstacles that seriously impede or prevent the migration of the species and prevent, reduce or control factors that are endangering or are likely to further endanger the species: ibid., Art. III(4).

87 Ibid., Art. II(3)(c).

88 New York, NY (US), 17 Mar. 1992, in force 29 Mar. 1994 (also for the Netherlands), available at:

89 ASCOBANS, ibid., Art. 1.1. The Agreement area was expanded in 2003, a development that officially entered into effect in 2008, to incorporate Irish, Spanish and Portuguese waters. As yet none of these states have acceded.

90 Ibid., Art. 1.2(a).

91 Ibid., Preamble; see also Resolution 1.6: Agreements (Resolution adopted at the 1st COP of the CMS), available at:

92 Ibid., Art. 2.1.

93 Ibid., Art. 2.2.

94 Ibid., Annex, para. 4.

95 The German version speaks of ‘Vorschriften’ in plural, and the French of ‘l’interdiction par la législation nationale de la capture et de la mise à mort intentionelles de petits cétacés’.

96 ‘Taking’ under the Act ‘means to harass, capture, or kill, or attempt to harass, hunt, capture or kill any marine mammal’ – section 3(13); codified at 16 U.S.C. § 1361 et seq.

97 CMS, n. 31 above, Art. I(1)(i).

98 ASCOBANS, n. 88 above, Annex, para. 2.

99 For a critical discussion of the research-dominated tone of the ASCOBANS text, see Nijkamp, H. and Nollkaemper, A., ‘The Protection of Small Cetaceans in the Face of Uncertainty: An Analysis of the ASCOBANS Agreement’ (1997) 9 Georgetown International Environmental Law Review, pp. 281302Google Scholar, at 301.

100 ASCOBANS, n. 88 above, Annex, para. 2.

101 Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats, Bern (Switzerland), 19 Sept. 1979, in force 1 June 1982 (also for the Netherlands), available at:

102 N. 63 above.

103 Bern Convention, n. 101 above, Art. 12, and Art. 193 Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), Lisbon (Portugal), 13 Dec. 2007, in force 1 Dec. 2009 [2010] OJ C83/49.

104 ASCOBANS, n. 88 above, Annex, para. 4(b).

105 Ibid., Annex, para. 2.

106 The explanation in the second half of para. 2 of the Annex clarifies that virtually all such research is of a kind which is to be carried out at sea.

107 ASCOBANS, n. 88 above, Annex, para. 2.

108 Exemption FF/75A/2008/064, n. 55 above, para. 8 (translation by present authors; emphasis added).

109 ‘Suggestions for Returning “Morgan” the Orca (Killer Whale) to a Natural Life in the Ocean’, AC18/Doc.8-01, available at: On the Society generally, see

110 ‘Why Orca Morgan Cannot be Set Free’, AC18/Doc.8-02, available at:

111 Ibid.

112 Compliance with national law cannot be invoked to excuse non-compliance with international law, according to Art. 27 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (VCLT), Vienna (Austria), 23 May 1969, in force 27 Jan. 1980, available at:

113 ‘Why Orca Morgan Cannot be Set Free’, n. 110 above.

114 Report of 18th Meeting of the ASCOBANS AC, Bonn (Germany), 4–6 May 2011, at p. 21, available at:

115 Ibid.

116 Ibid.

117 Monaco, 24 Nov. 1996, in force 1 June 2001, available at:

118 Ibid., Annex I. Under Art. I(5), Annexes to the Agreement ‘form an integral part thereof, and any reference to the Agreement includes a reference to its annexes’.

119 Guidelines for the Release of Captive Cetaceans in the Wild, adopted through Resolution 3.20 (2007) (the Guidelines), available at:

120 ACCOBAMS, n. 117 above, Art. II(1); again the notion of ‘taking’ is not defined within ACCOBAMS and is broadly assumed to correspond with that of the parent convention.

121 Ibid., Art. II(2).

122 Burns, W.C.G., ‘The Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans of the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and Contiguous Atlantic Area (ACCOBAMS): A Regional Response to the Threats Facing Cetaceans’ (1998) 1(1) Journal of International Wildlife Law and Policy, pp. 113–33Google Scholar, at 114; and, ‘Threats’, updated 3 July 2012, available at:

123 A. Aguilar & J.A. Raga, ‘The Striped Dolphin Epizootic in the Mediterranean Sea’ (1993) 22 Ambio, pp. 524–8.

124 Guidelines, n. 119 above, para. 3.

125 Guidelines, ibid., para. 1.1.

127 Bonn (Germany), 16 Oct. 1990, in force 1 Oct. 1991, available at:

128 Although under Art. II(1), the WSSA applies exclusively to the harbour seal, the grey seal (Halichoerus grypus) is also addressed by the treaty’s management plan adopted for 2007–2011.

129 WSSA, n. 127 above, Art. VI(1).

130 Ibid., Art. VI(2); the same provision adds that seals ‘which are clearly suffering and cannot survive’ may be killed by authorized persons.

131 ‘Conservation and Management Plan for the Wadden Sea Seal Population 2007–2010’, reproduced at

132 N. 101 above.

133 Ibid., Art. 1.

134 Ibid., Art. 6.

135 Ibid., Art. 7.

136 See also Bowman, M., Davies, P. & Redgwell, C., Lyster’s International Wildlife Law (Cambridge University Press, 2010), at p. 314.Google Scholar

137 Bern Convention, n. 101 above, Art. 6(e).

138 Ibid., Art. 9(2).

139 See also C. Shine, ‘Interpretation of Article 9 of the Bern Convention’, Bern Convention Doc. T-PVS/Inf(2010)16 (Oct. 2010), at p. 6.

140 Ibid.

141 Exemption FF/75A/2008/064, n. 55 above (translation by present authors; emphasis added).

142 Explanatory Report Concerning the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Council of Europe, 1979).

143 Ibid., para. 39.

144 Ibid., para. 31.

145 Ibid., para. 39.

146 WSSA, n.127 above, Art. VI(2).

147 ACCOBAMS, n. 117 above, Art. II(2).

148 Canberra (Australia), 19 June 2001, in force 1 Feb. 2004, available at:

149 ACAP, ibid., Art. 3(5): ‘Humane killing, by duly authorized persons, to end the suffering of seriously injured or moribund albatrosses or petrels shall not constitute deliberate taking or harmful interference’.

150 Recommendation No. R(85) 15 of the Committee of Ministers to Member States on the Introduction of Wildlife Species.

151 Recommendation No. 58 (1997) on the Reintroduction of Organisms Belonging to Wild Species and on Restocking and Reinforcing Populations of Such Organisms in the Environment.

152 N. 63 above.

153 Ibid., Art. 2(1). On the challenges of implementing the Directive within the marine environment, see Caddell, R., ‘The Maritime Dimensions of the Habitats Directive: Past Challenges and Future Opportunities’ in Jones QC, G. (ed.), The Habitats Directive: A Developer's Obstacle Course? (Hart, 2012), pp. 183–208Google Scholar; and Trouwborst & Dotinga, n. 24 above.

154 Habitats Directive, n. 63 above, Art. 2(2).

155 Ibid., Art. 12(1).

156 Ibid., Art. 12(1)(a).

157 Ibid., Art. 12(2).

158 Case C-6/04, Commission v. United Kingdom [2005] ECR I-9017, para. 111.

159 Habitats Directive, n. 63 above, Art. 16(1).

160 See, inter alia, the ECJ judgment in Case C-6/04, n. 158 above, para. 111; and European Commission, Guidance Document on the Strict Protection of Animal Species of Community Interest under the Habitats Directive 92/43/EEC, Feb. 2007, at p. 53, available at:

161 Commission Guidance 2007, ibid., at p. 54; see also Case C-60/05, WWF Italia and Others v. Regione Lombardia [2006] ECR I-5083, para. 34; Case C-76/08, Commission v. Malta [2009] ECR I-8213, para. 48.

162 Commission Guidance 2007, ibid., at p. 56.

163 Exemption FF/75A/2008/064, n. 55 above, para. 8.

164 Habitats Directive, n. 63 above, Art. 16(1)(d).

165 Ibid., Art. 16(1)(a).

166 Case C-6/04, n. 158 above, Opinion of A-G Kokott, 9 June 2005, para. 110. Incidentally, the issue had not been raised by the Commission, and the ECJ itself did not address it.

167 Paris (France), 22 Sept. 1992, in force 25 Mar. 1998, available at:

168 OSPAR Convention, ibid., Annex V, Art. 2(a) (in force for the Netherlands since 24 Aug. 2001).

169 For the latest version of the list, see OSPAR Agreement 2008-16 (2008), available at:

170 Stone, C., ‘Should Trees Have Standing? Toward Legal Rights for Natural Objects’ (1972) 45 Southern California Law Review, pp. 450–87.Google Scholar

171 See Newell, P. & Grant, W., ‘Environmental NGOs and EU Environmental Law’, in Etty, T.F.M. & Somsen, H. (eds.), The Yearbook of European Environmental Law, Vol. 1 (Oxford University Press, 2000), pp. 225–52.Google Scholar

172 In the US District Court for the Southern District of California. See the filed papers at

173 The orcas are named Tilikum, Katina, Corky, Kasatka and Ulises: ibid, para 1.

174 Ibid., para. 1.

175 Ibid., paras 10–18.

176 Ibid., paras 19–27.

177 Ibid., paras 101–107.

178 Ibid., paras 108–111.

179 Which provides that ‘[n]either slavery nor involuntary servitude ... shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction’.

180 Filed papers, n. 172 above, para. 104.

181 Ibid., para. 105.

182 US District Court, S.D. California, Westlaw citation: 2012 WL 399214 (S.D.Cal.).; Jeffrey T. Miller, District Judge.

183 Ibid., ‘Applicability of the Thirteenth Amendment to Plaintiffs: para. 3’.

184 Ibid., para. 4.

185 Ibid., paras 4–5.

186 The SeaWorld case was not the first such case in the US. In 2004 the 9th Circuit Court (which includes California in its jurisdiction) decided that ‘the world’s cetaceans’ did not have ‘standing to bring suit in their own name under the Endangered Species Act, the Marine Mammals Protection Act, the National Environment Protection Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act’: The Cetacean Community v. George W. Bush, President of the United States of America; Donald H. Rumsfeld, United States of America Secretary of Defense, US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, No. 03-15866, D.C. No. CV-02-00599-DAE/BMK, filed 20 Oct. 2004; 386 F.3d 1169 (9th Cir. 2004). In this case, the cetacean community (meaning ‘all of the world’s whales, porpoises and dolphins’) challenged the US Navy’s use of certain sonar equipment which was allegedly injurious to them. This precedent may have prompted the SeaWorld plaintiffs to found their action on an alternative basis (violation of the Thirteenth Amendment).

187 Coincidentally, the orcas currently at Loro Parque originated from SeaWorld in the US.

188 With regard to these instruments the judgment is limited to the general statement that the Flora and Fauna Act constitutes part of the Netherlands’ implementation of its ‘European and international obligations’: Joined cases AWB 11/5033 BESLU and AWB 11/5035 BESLU, n. 73 above, para. 4.7 (translation by present authors).

189 Exemption FF/75A/2008/064, n. 55 above, para. 8.

190 A similar case to that of Morgan’s could arise tomorrow in any state with a coastline.