Canada passes bill to ban whale, dolphin captivity

Canada passes bill to ban whale, dolphin captivity

On Monday, the Canadian parliament approved a draft bill banning the breeding and captivity of cetaceans including whales and dolphins, a decision which has been applauded by animal rights activists.

Whales and dolphins that are already in captivity will doubtless be grandfathered in by the bill, meaning parks can protect all of the animals they now indulge in.

Marineland at the Niagara Falls and the Vancouver aquarium are the only two establishments in Canada to hold captive cetaceans.

It places restrictions on importing and exporting cetaceans, and bans making them perform for entertainment, with fines of up to $200,000 (£118,160) for breaches.

The Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act makes exceptions for cetaceans that are rescued or are in rehabilitation and for researchers who obtain a license from the government. "Cetaceans require the ocean, they require the space, they require acoustic communication over long distances".

The victory will bring an end to the whale and dolphin captivity at Vancouver's aquarium.

The bill exempts the whales now at Marineland and it "acknowledges the educational role of Marineland by prohibiting entertainment only exhibits while continuing to enable Marineland's Academic Displays", the park talked about.

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The animal rights group maintains that such displays can harm the animals.

"This bill is a tremendous opportunity for Canada to be a world leader in protecting whales and dolphins", said Camille Labchuk, Executive Director of Animal Justice, speaking to VegNews.

Marineland, the other facility that keeps captive cetaceans, has taken a different approach, lobbying against the bill every step of the way.

Vancouver Aquarium previous year announced its decision to no longer contain the whale, and now they have only 1 Dolphin.

Marineland in Niagara Falls, Ont., on the other hand, recently told the Canadian government it now has 50 belugas at its facility and several are pregnant. Two will be sent to Spain, approval has been received, and five more are planning to export to the United States.

"Marineland began an evolution in our operation some time ago, and as that evolution continues we are confident that our operations remain compliant with all aspects of (the bill)", it said in a statement.

Despite the grandfathering, Phil Demers, a prone Marineland trainer-modified into activist, called it a "historical day for Canada". "We're proud of our work, and our contribution to research, education, and conservation".