After being stalled in the Canadian Senate since November 2017, a bill that would ban whale and dolphin captivity in Canada is finally moving forward. If S-203 passes the Senate, it will be voted on by Parliament and be one step closer to becoming law.
The bill would criminalize holding whales and dolphins captive in Canada, but grandfathers in those already held. Research and rescue are allowed under the bill, and a clause recognizing First Nations treaty rights was added. Banning captivity in Canada has wide public support, with opposition to the industry increasing in recent years.
Public outcry against captivity led to Vancouver Aquarium’s recent announcement that they would no longer hold whales and dolphins captive, and now their CEO, John Nightingale, has announced he will retire at the end of 2018. Nightingale oversaw the Aquarium for 25 years, through growing public oppostion to captivity and a sad series of deaths in the last few years.
The Aquarium’s announcement earlier this year followed a vote by the Vancouver Park Board to prevent any new whales and dolphins from being brought into captivity, citing ethical concerns. The Vancouver Aquarium followed in the footsteps of other establishments in the captivity industry that enacted changes following the release of the documentary Blackfish and the resulting flood of opposition, including the National Aquarium in Baltimore and SeaWorld.
The Aquarium has just one dolphin remaining at the facility, and a reported four belugas on loan to other institutions. These individuals are potential candidates to be moved to a more natural sanctuary environment, such as the sanctuary WDC is developing with Merlin Entertainments.