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Image: Peter Flood

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Canada to ban capture of whales and dolphins

The Canadian government is to ban the capture of wild whales, dolphins and porpoises for theme parks as part a reforms to its fisheries legislation.

The Senate bill will prohibit live imports as well as the import of sperm, tissue or an embryo of any of these marine mammals.

There has been no live-capture of cetaceans for captivity in Canada since 1992. In recent years, however, wild-caught beluga whales and bottlenose dolphins have been imported for use in marine parks from foreign sources.

The Canadian government’s actions come as the move to end captivity around the world gathers pace in the wake of a backlash caused by the success of the documentary film, Blackfish, released in 2013.

“The public acceptance of keeping these majestic creatures in captivity has changed and we think the law should also change to reflect that,” says Fisheries Minister, Dominic LeBlanc. “We think Canadians massively support that principle.”

There are only two facilities in Canada, Marineland and the Vancouver Aquarium, that currently hold whales and dolphins for entertainment. The Vancouver Aquarium recently said it would no longer display whales or dolphins  at its facility as protests over captivity have become a “distraction” for the business. The Aquarium also said it will not take injured or rescued whales and dolphins whereas the Canadian government’s new legislation will allow exemptions for injured individuals and those requiring rehabilitation.

WDC is working to establish a sanctuary for beluga whales held in captivity – read more.

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