Canada is closer to banning dolphin and whale captivity thanks to Bills S-203, or the Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act. Members of parliament voted to move it along at the end of January, with the New Democratic Party and Liberals backing it.
S-203 was first proposed in 2015 and is through the Senate after three years of debate.
Currently, Canada’s Vancouver Aquarium and Marineland are the only two marine parks that have cetaceans in captivity. Vancouver currently houses infamous Helen, who’s the lone Pacific white-sided dolphin after the aquarium announced the end of its captive whale and dolphin program last year.
Meanwhile, Marineland owns 61 cetaceans, including an orca, bottlenose dolphins and beluga whales, which amount to 55, the world’s largest ‘collection’, according to the park.
“Probably over 20,000 emails and phone calls were made in the days proceeding this vote. This [captivity ban] is something Canadians across the country are really ready for,” Camille Labchuck, executive director of Animal Justice, an animal advocacy group, has told CBC. “Those in the wild travel vast distance, dive deeply, live in complex family structures and enjoy a quality of life that is much better than the abject misery and barrenness of living in a tank.”
If the bill passes the Parliament, any new park or aquarium that holds any cetacean in captivity for the purpose of entertainment will face a fine of up to $200,000. The bill also prohibits the importation of cetacean sperm, tissues, or embryos.
Marine parks can keep the cetaceans currently under their care, but they cannot breed or capture more in the wild. The main objective of the bill is to phase out the practice of keeping the dolphins and whales in captivity and discourage any further practices.