Published: Fri, June 14, 2019
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

Ottawa passes legislation that bans whale and dolphin captivity in Canada

Ottawa passes legislation that bans whale and dolphin captivity in Canada

OTTAWA, Canada- Canada's House of Commons passed a bill Monday to make it illegal to hold a whale, dolphin or porpoise captive, punishable by fines up to $150,000 United States dollars.

The man who blew the whistle on alleged animal abuses at Marineland hopes the federal government's new legislation aimed at banning whales in captivity is a "precedent-setting" move that spreads globally.

In 2015, Canadian legislators introduced The Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act.

"Many scientists testified to why it was critical that we stop keeping cetaceans in captivity. Cetaceans require the ocean, they require the space, they require acoustic communication over long distances". The passage of the law has been lauded by animal-rights activists, who have campaigned against dolphins in captivity for decades.

The legislation, which had its third and final reading Monday, received support from the Liberals, NDP and Bloc Quebecois, with some Conservatives opposed.

The bill does however make exceptions if the animals happen to be rescues, in rehabilitation, in need of assistance or licensed for scientific research.

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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.

The new law will contain exceptions for marine mammals who require rehabilitation following an injury or licensed for scientific research, while parks can also keep the animals they now own. "This is news to splash a fin at", animal rights group Humane Canada said in a tweet.

As of now, only two facilities will continue to keep dolphins, the Vancouver Aquarium and Marineland, however, none of them will be allowed confine new ones nor breed existing ones, according to reports.

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

Last year, the Vancouver Aquarium, which has kept dolphins and whales for more than 50 years, announced it would phase out its cetacean program by 2029. This decision was taken after in 2017, two Beluga (species is included in the "Red book") died at the aquarium.

The bill bans conserving and breeding cetaceans - at the side of whales, dolphins and porpoises - by amendments to the Prison Code, and would levy fines to lawbreakers of up to $200,000. But in a statement Monday, Marineland said that its operations have been evolving since its founding in the 1960s and that it would comply with the legislation.

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