Aquatic Animal Law Initiative
The Aquatic Animal Law Initiative (AALI) is the first to focus on questions broadly relating to the legal protection of aquatic animals.
Aquatic animals are too often left out of the legal and regulatory frameworks that provide some protection for other non-human animals. By “aquatic animals”, we mean not only fish, but also the myriad of other animals that live in water for most of their life: amphibians, finfish, marine mammals, crustaceans, reptiles, molluscs, aquatic birds, aquatic insects and even animals such as starfish and corals. Too little is understood about aquatic animals, their welfare, environmental and health, and safety issues associated with aquatic animal use and production. Likewise, too little of the evolving scientific data relating to aquatic animals is available to the public and policy makers. When making decisions affecting their lives, it is important to consider the critical role of aquatic animals within ecosystems, as well as their individual capacities and biological needs.
Given the widespread use of aquatic animals for human goals, it is also important to consider questions raised by that usage - housing, feeding, medical care, transportation, slaughter, processing, breeding, testing, and exhibition. Until now, there has been no entity dedicated to the legal analysis of these issues. Thus, AALI was created in order to consider the legal, as well as scientific and economic, contours of issues resulting from the use of aquatic animals.
AALI faculty, fellows and students will conduct legal analysis and engage in law reform efforts, and will initially focus on:
- The exclusions of fish from regulatory protection within the Animal Welfare Act;
- The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act rulemaking process, in order to address the increasing use of aquatic species in testing, to urge the implementation of appropriate standards for their protection, and to promote alternatives to animal testing;
- The impacts of aquaculture (industrial scale production of aquatic animals for food) on animals, as well as on the natural and human environments; and
- Development of a better social and scientific understanding of aquatic animals, and their critical role in the biosphere, in order to facilitate informed policy decision-making.
The Aquatic Animal Law Initiative works to protect and promote the interests of aquatic animals by:
- Advocating on their behalf through the legal system;
- Promoting their value to the public by providing education about their cognitive, emotional, and physiological capacities; and
- Harmonizing human, animal, and environmental interests.