Published: Saturday 31 March 2001

Two Brazilian journalists and a fisherfolk have been sentenced to two years of imprisonment for chasing and ramming a right whale and her calf five years ago. The case was the first to be filed under the Cetacean Protection Law passed in 1987 that forbids killing and harassment of any whale or dolphin in waters under Brazilian jurisdiction. Environmentalists believe that the court's decision is likely to ensure strict interpretation of the law in future. In September 1995, journalists Roberto Salum and Joo Batista vila Rosa and professional fisherfolk Nilo da Silva chased and finally rammed a right whale and her calf in Pinheira Beach, Santa Catarina, while shooting for a film that was telecast nationwide. Marine mammal scientist Jos Truda Palazzo Jr, head of the Brazilian Right Whale Project, alleged that the footage was "sensational". Palazzo had requested the federal public attorney's office in Santa Catarina to take action against the journalists.

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