After 4 years of sitting in legislation, the Common’s fisheries committee has passed a bill banning captive whales and dolphins in Canada.
Known as Bill S-203, the law bans keeping and breeding cetaceans in captivity through amendments to the Criminal Code. This is the final nail in what has been a controversial policy, and one that will all but kill related theme park and aquarium attractions. The 2015 bill was initially sponsored by Liberal Senator Wilf Moore. It has passed through the Senate, unamended, which means it has cleared the final hurdle and is highly unlikely to be stopped.
This is a win for animal rights activists that argue that holding sentient creatures in concrete tanks amounts to cruel and unusual punishment. This could be a watershed moment as other western countries may follow suit.
Former Judge and Independent Senator Murray Sinclair wrote “The bill is a simple and straightforward one. It works from the presumption that placing these beautiful creatures into the kinds of pens that they have been kept in is inherently cruel.”
Penalties for parks and aquariums in violation of the soon-to-be-law could reach in excess of $200,000 in criminal fines.
Marineland in Niagara Falls, Ontario (1 hour south of Toronto) — the last remaining facility in Canada that is committed to keeping cetaceans as an attraction into perpetuity, has been starkly opposed toBill S-203, saying “it would devastate attendance and threaten conservation efforts at theme parks where these animals are on display”. It also has said seasonal employment at the theme park is at risk.
More to come.
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