Science

Canadian lawmakers pass bill making whale, dolphin captivity illegal

Canadian lawmakers pass bill making whale, dolphin captivity illegal”

The country's House of Commons passed a bill Monday that makes it illegal to keep a whale, dolphin or porpoise in captivity.

After the bill was passed by the Senate late past year, the Canadian government officially passed Bill S-203, the Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act on Monday, June 10. Those who violate the rule could face fines of up to $150,000. "This is news to splash a fin at", animal rights group Humane Canada said in a tweet. It will permit cetaceans already in captivity to be be kept by their keepers.

Marineland in Niagara Falls and the Vancouver Aquarium in British Columbia are the only two facilities in Canada that now keep captive cetaceans.

Beluga whales are remarkably social animals, using a massive range of clicks, whistles and clangs to communicate with their kind. Whales and dolphins that already live in captivity will be "grandfathered" into the bill, according to the CBC, so Canadian theme parks will be allowed to keep the animals they now own.

The law also wouldn't apply to cetaceans being rescued and rehabilitated after an injury, nor does it ban scientific research, provided researchers have the correct license.

First brought before Canadian legislators back in 2015, the bill is expected to be signed into law once it gains "royal assent", or approval by the Canadian monarchy. In 2013, the documentary Blackfish premiered, arguing that the conditions of captivity (tiny cages, close quarters to other whales, performance training) caused a whale named Tilikum to contribute to the deaths of three humans. It would penalize anyone who keeps a cetacean in captivity, breeds or impregnates a cetacean, or anyone who possesses or seeks to obtain reproductive materials of cetaceans, the bill states.

Green Party Leader and Saanich - Gulf Islands MP Elizabeth May stated, "Canadians have been clear, they want the cruel practice of keeping whales and dolphins in captivity to end. Cetaceans require the ocean, they require the space, they require acoustic communication over long distances".



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