There is no essential element that constitutes a crime in the case in which former president Jair Bolsonaro (PL) is accused of “harassing” a humpback whale off the coast of São Paulo, according to an assessment by environmental lawyer Antônio Pinheiro Pedro. The investigation became public after the Federal Public Ministry said, on Friday (17), that it would monitor the investigation launched by the Federal Police against the former president.
“Technically, the two criminal types handled in this legal attack on the president do not provide for conduct other than intent, which is the intention or willingness to act, consciously, to commit the crime, or consciously assume the risk of its occurrence. This was never Bolsonaro’s conduct,” said the lawyer.
According to the MPF, videos and photos published on social media show the jet ski, with its engine running, approaching 15 meters from the whale, which was on the surface. The case would have happened on the north coast of São Paulo, close to the city of São Sebastião.
Brazilian legislation prohibits the approach of any species of cetacean with a running engine less than 100 meters away from the nearest animal. In the specific case of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae), the law determines that the engine must be kept in neutral. In the case of observation tourism, there is an international manual, developed by the International Whaling Commission (CIB), which advises that a minimum distance of 300 meters be maintained from cetaceans.
In general, the determination of the distances that should be maintained from whales varies depending on each country. Oceanographer Alexandre Zerbini explains that the United States, for example, adopts greater distances for species threatened with extinction. The species that would have been harassed by Bolsonaro, however, is not at risk of extinction in Brazil, according to the expert. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), in fact, has considered the species as not globally threatened since 2008.
The lawyer also notes that in Bolsonaro’s case, in addition to the jet ski not having a propeller, there was no other means of attacking the whale, as would be the case with a detached keel, oars or even paddles, which are used in boats or kayaks. .