Ottawa passes legislation that bans whale and dolphin captivity in Canada

Mindy Sparks
June 14, 2019

The bill, which will prohibit keeping whales and dolphins in captivity or for breeding has been praised by a number animal rights groups.

Canada's Senate passed the measure a year ago, and the House of Commons voted to approve it on Monday.

Bill S-203, nicknamed the "Free Willy" bill after the iconic 1993 movie that portrayed a boy freeing an Orca whale from an amusement park, applies to those who own or have custody or control of a cetacean in captivity.

"We have a moral obligation to phase out the capture and retention of animals for profit and entertainment", Bill sponsor Senator Wilfred Moore said, "Canadians are calling upon us to do better - and we have listened".

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.

During their celebration, the Green Party of Canada said, "These intelligent, social mammals will now get to live where they belong - in the ocean".

The facility told the government it had problems with the way the whale and dolphin captivity bill was written, noting that it would be in violation of the Criminal Code when the law comes into effect since some of its belugas are pregnant and set to give birth this summer.

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.

Animal rights group Humane Canada celebrated the news by tweeting: Nothing fantastic ever happens in a hurry.

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

The Vancouver Aquarium has a single dolphin left after the city announced in 2017 it would no longer house whales there. There are plans for seven of the belugas to be sent to aquariums in Spain and the United States, however.

On Monday, it said it will comply with "all animal welfare legislation in Canada".

Philip Demers, a former senior trainer at Marineland who blew the whistle on the theme park in 2012, called the bill a "big victory".

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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