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Friday, May 2, 2014

Canada Avoids "Fish Royal" Tragedy

A few days ago, I blogged about a recently-beached whale in Canada. Inhabitants of nearby towns worried that the whale would explode, but the Canadian federal government was reluctant to remove the whale. It appears that there are now three beached whales. I noted that the scenario was eerily similar to the "Fish Royal" case in A.P. Herbert's Uncommon Law where the Crown's refusal to take action over a beached whale results in the complete abandonment of a town due to the whale's stench.

In the Fish Royal case, the first option the Crown considered was that the beached whale be sent to a museum:

[A] letter was addressed to the Director of the Natural History Museum informing him that an unusually fine specimen of Balaena Biscayensis was now lying in Pudding Bay and that the Minister was authorized by His Majesty to offer the whale to the Museum in trust for the nation, the Museum to bear the charges of collection and transport. 
On July 3rd . . . the Secretary to the Natural History Museum replied that he was desired by the Director to express his regret that, owing to lack of space, the Museum was unable to accept His Magesty's gracious offer. He was to add that the Museum was already in possession of three fine specimines of Balaena Biscayensis.
Here, Canada's federal government expressed  the towns of Rocky Harbour and Trout River will not undergo the same experience as Pudding Magna. The BBC reports:

Canada's Royal Ontario Museum will take two blue whale carcasses that washed up on the coast of western Newfoundland. 
Whales on the beaches of Rocky Harbour and Trout River were among several believed to have died in heavy ice. 
The towns did not have the resources to move the decomposing whales, which experts fears could bloat and explode. 
"The chance to preserve, study and examine up to two skeletons is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," the museum said in a statement.
It looks like Rocky Harbour and Trout River will avoid the stench and potential explosion of these beached whales. But now that it is in possession of two whale skeletons, this solution may not be available to future towns who seek to rid themselves of whale carcasses.

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