After a four year fight with conservative parties, the Canadian bill “Ending the Captivity of Whales an Dolphin Act” has been passed by the Commons fisheries committee.
Bill S-203 is a huge step forward for opponents of whale and dolphin captivity as it would ban all captivity across Canada.
The bill was passed last week with the support of Liberal and NDP MPs.
“The bill is a simple and straightforward one. It works from the presumption that placing these beautiful creatures into the kinds of pens that they have been kept in is inherently cruel,” Independent Sen. Murray Sinclair, the former judge who helped usher the bill through Parliament after Moore’s retirement, told the Commons fisheries committee.
Currently the only facility holding these marine mammals is Marineland Niagara Falls, Ontario and currently is home to multiple species including the largest beluga whale “collection” in the world. Marineland have been a vocal opponent of the bill, saying it would devastate attendance and threaten conservation efforts at theme parks where these animals are on display.
However, existing cetacean stocks will be grandfathered by the bill, meaning the park can keep all the animals it currently owns.
According to data supplied by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Marineland owns about 61 cetaceans: 55 beluga whales, five bottlenose dolphins and one orca, or “killer whale.”
If it’s passed by Parliament, the bill will allow for the government to fine facilities up to $200,000 that are found to have violated proposed animal cruelty provisions in the Criminal Code and would not allow for any future programs that do look to take more animals in.
Unfortunately for the mammals currently calling the aquariums home will, they will not be able to return back to the sea as they have lived their whole life in tanks for the purpose of human entertainment. Where the bill will really make a difference is ensuring that no wild dolphin or whale in the future will be caught to replace or fill a tank in Canada and will hopefully set precedent for other nations to follow Canada.