April 30, 2021

Second Annual World Aquatic Animal Day Proves a Whale of a Time

In this blog by law student, Mary Hofmann, she provides an overview of this year’s World Aquatic Animal Day, an annual event launched and hosted by the Aquatic Animal Law Initiative and the Animal Law Clinic.

April 3, 2021 marked the second annual World Aquatic Animal Day, a project of the Aquatic Animal Law Initiative (AALI) and the Animal Law Clinic at Lewis & Clark Law School, as part of the Center for Animal Law Studies. The goal of the day is to raise global awareness about these often forgotten animals. Aquatic animals play a critical role in our societies and ecosystems, yet are widely used and abused around the world. Aquatic animals face a multitude of different threats but are often overlooked and ignored in our society and legal systems. In an attempt to draw attention to some of these threats, this year’s theme was “The Impact of Our Human Activities on Aquatic Animals.”

Due to the ongoing global pandemic, World Aquatic Animal Day was hosted virtually. Throughout the all-day event, there were live panels with speakers, pre-recorded sessions, an action hour co-hosted with community partners, and even a watch-party for the newly released “Seaspiracy” documentary.

After a short welcome and introduction by Professor Kathy Hessler and Fellow Amy P. Wilson of AALI and the Animal Law Clinic, the day commenced with a presentation by Dr. Becca Franks, a research scientist in the Department of Environmental Studies at New York University, who discussed the biases we hold about aquatic animals and how this has led to a mismatch between their use and their protection. Next was a pre-recorded conversation with Julian Matthews, a board member of Nimiipuu Protecting the Environment and enrolled member of the Nez Perce Tribe. Mr. Matthews discussed protecting aquatic animals and their habitats from a Nez Perce perspective, as well as the intersection with Treaty Rights. Cassia Patel, program director of Oceanic Global, then took a deep dive into the plastic pollution issue and its effect on marine life, as well as opportunities for action.

The lunchtime session was a Virtual Community Action Hour, which provided an opportunity for participants to get active and advocate for aquatic animals. Participants signed petitions, showed support on social media, and sent emails and tweets to their elected representatives. Our Community Partners who hosted and led the action hour were Chelsea V. Davis, Veggies Do It Better, Animal Rights Collective Portland (ARCPDX) and Lewis & Clark Law School’s Animal Legal Defense Fund Student Chapter (LC ALDF) represented by co-directors Conor Lamkin and Ellie Nicoletta.

Following the action hour, Dr. Naomi A. Rose, a Marine Mammal Scientist from the Animal Welfare Institute, discussed some of the lesser-known harmful effects of whale watching and suggested ways to more responsibly participate in ecotourism activities. Dr. Lori Marino, founder and president of the Whale Sanctuary Project and founder and executive director of the Kimmela Center for Animal Advocacy, then discussed the Whale Sanctuary Project and highlighted some of the work they are doing to protect cetaceans in captivity.

The final Webinar Session of the day delved into a few of the legal and regulatory aspects affecting the protection of aquatic animals. Law students Caitlin Skurky, Mary Hofmann, and Jackson Moffett discussed three key legal issues relating to the protection of aquatic animals: their exclusion from the U.S. Federal Animal Welfare Act; the intersection between environmental law and animal law; and the importance of community engagement in marine protected area management.

The Legal Panel concluded the Webinar sessions for the day and participants then had the option to join a Netflix Watch Party screening of the new documentary “Seaspiracy” hosted by Community Partners Chelsea V. Davis, Veggies Do It Better, Animal Rights Collective Portland (ARCPDX) and Lewis & Clark Law School’s student Ocean Research and Conservation Alliance (ORCA), represented by Meg Price.

In addition to the participants in our virtual sessions, a huge number of people, groups, and organizations from around the world participated in the day through their own events, social media posts, and other media platforms.

Organizations based in countries around the world, as well as international organizations such as the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), participated in the event. It truly was a global day, with participants in Australia, Canada, Chile, Indonesia, Kenya, New Zealand, South Africa, the United States, the United Kingdom, and many more! Even prominent influencers spoke up for aquatic animals; Paul Nicklen, co-founder of SeaLegacy and contributor for National Geographic, shared the day with his 6.9 million followers on Instagram. World Aquatic Animal Day even made the news in some places, appearing in a news article from Ghana.

We are extremely thankful to everyone who participated in World Aquatic Animal Day, shared our resources, made their own materials, hosted their own events, or took part in any other way! Hundreds of organizations and individuals posted their own photography or created their own art, infographics, informational videos, and even their own t-shirts, to promote the day and raise awareness for these amazing animals.

Though it would be impossible for us to thank everyone who participated, we thought we would showcase some of the creative ways that some got involved - proving that really anyone can speak up for aquatic animals, and that so many different types of groups care about these issues. Here are a few imaginative examples:

For those who were unable to attend the Webinar Sessions, recordings from the day will soon be posted on the Center for Animal Law Studies’ website and Youtube channel. Other resources available on the website include a Resource Guide, Ten Ways to Get Involved-Without Leaving Home, and a Social Media Kit. The Community Action Hour recording and documents can be found on the Veggies Do It Better Facebook Page, and additional #CouchActivism activities can be found here.

A special thank you to everyone at AALI, the Animal Law Clinic, and Lewis & Clark who helped make this day a success. Professor Kathy Hessler and AALI Amy P. Wilson, who developed the idea for the day, have been working towards World Aquatic Animal Day 2021 since last year’s event. Student interns of the Animal Law Clinic and the Center for Animal Law Studies, as well as student volunteers, helped put the resources together behind the scenes and participated as moderators and speakers throughout the day. These interns include Patty Keough (3L Student, Lewis & Clark Law School, AALI and Animal Law Clinic Intern), Mary Hofmann (3L Student, University of Toledo College of Law, Center for Animal Law Studies Extern), and Caitlin Skurky (3L Student, Lewis & Clark Law School, AALI and Animal Law Clinic Intern). Volunteers included Jackson Moffett (1L Student, Lewis & Clark Law School), Miranda Groh (1L Student, Lewis & Clark Law School) and Lyudmila Shegay (LLM ’20 Alum). Megan Senatori from the Center for Animal Law Studies and Henry van Vuuren from Lewis & Clark Law School were instrumental in publicizing the day and making the virtual event run smoothly.

We are already looking forward to next year’s World Aquatic Animal Day and hope that you will get involved. The 2022 theme is “Disentangling the Sustainability Myth in Fishing and Aquaculture” to align with the United Nations General Assembly’s International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture.

For more information throughout the year as next year’s World Aquatic Animal Day gets closer, continue to check our website and follow the hashtag #WorldAquaticAnimalDay.

Mary Hofmann is a third-year law student at the University of Toledo College of Law and is currently an extern with the Center for Animal Law Studies. Mary has a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Engineering from the Ohio State University. She is an articles editor for the University of Toledo Law Review, and her note about criminal liability in environmental law will be published later this year. After graduation, she hopes to protect the environment by helping to bridge the gap between scientific understanding and legal framework.

The Center for Animal Law Studies (CALS) was founded in 2008 with a mission to educate the next generation of animal law attorneys and advance animal protection through the law. With vision and bold risk-taking, CALS has since developed into a world-renowned animal law epicenter, with the most comprehensive animal law curriculum offered anywhere. CALS offers the world’s first and only advanced legal degree in Animal Law, now available both in person or online. In addition, CALS is the only program that offers an advanced legal degree in animal law and three specialty Animal Law Clinics.