Published: Fri, June 14, 2019
Science | By

Canada bans keeping whales and dolphins in captivity

Canada bans keeping whales and dolphins in captivity

Keeping whales and dolphins in captivity will no longer be allowed across Canada under legislation that passed Monday, drawing celebrations from activists and politicians who called it a significant development for animal rights.

In an announcement Monday, Marineland Canada talked about it complies with "all aspects" of the bill.

Bill S-203 was originally introduced by Senator Wilfred Moore in December 2015, then sponsored by Senator Murray Sinclair after Senator Moore retired. "Cetaceans require the ocean, they require the space, they require acoustic communication over long distances".

As Canadian news outlet CTV News reported, the exception allowing animals to remain in captivity who are already there (essentially "grandfathering" them in) applies to far less places than you might think. Breeding of whales is also prohibited. Dubbed 'Bill S-203, ' it won majority vote and would stop the confinement and breeding of the cetaceans in captivity.

"Nothing fantastic ever happens in a hurry", animal rights group Humane Canda, said in a Tweet. "This is news to splash a fin at", animal rights group Humane Canada said on social media.

'This is such an important law because it bans breeding, making sure the whales and dolphins now kept in tiny tanks in Canada are the last generation to suffer, ' Melissa Matlow, campaign director for World Animal Protection Canada, said in a statement.


The Vancouver Aquarium announced past year that it would no longer house cetaceans and has one dolphin left at its facility.

The CBC reports that the measure "notably impacts Marineland, the Niagara Falls [Ontario] amusement park and zoo that is considered the last Canadian park committed to keeping cetaceans in captivity".

Marineland, meanwhile, has told the government it has more than 50 belugas at its facility. There are plans for seven of the belugas to be sent to aquariums in Spain and the United States, however.

The bill covers all captive cetaceans - whales, dolphins and porpoises - and establishes fines of up to $200,000 for violations.

Demers said he voiced his concerns with how the cetaceans were being housed at Marineland years ago and when his complaints were ignored, he quit.

"Kiska" has outlived all of her children born at Marineland and is the sole orca left at the facility.

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