As of today, the Canadian government has officially banned whale and dolphin captivity in Canada after years of delay. While the bill works on banning cetacean captivity, it also touches on rules and regulations surrounding the capture and assistance of animals in distress. This ban comes into effect following the federal government passing legislation in Ottawa earlier today.
Update: Narcity reached out to Marineland and this article has been updated with their comments.
Thanks to a new bill passed on July 10, 2019, at the House of Commons in Ottawa, Canada will no longer be allowed to have whales and dolphins live in captivity. According to Cowichan Valley Citizen, Cowichan-Malahat-Langford MP Alistair MacGregor stated that this ban came "after years of delay.”
The bill was first introduced in the Senate in 2015 and known as the Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Acts. According to the BC SPCA, this bill was more than four years in the making and underwent more studies than any other bill in recent history.
Bill S-203, nicknamed the “Free Willy Bill,” eventually made it’s way to the House of Commons where it had its third and final reading today.
While it will totally ban the practice of keeping dolphins and whales captive, it will include a grandfather clause for those animals that are already in facilities in Canada.
According to CityNews, the bill will phase out the practice but will grandfather in those animals that are already being held in Marineland in Niagara Falls, Ontario, and the Vancouver Aquarium in BC.
Bill S-203 will also work by banning the trade of reproductive materials, however, nothing in the legislation would criminalize the conduct of researchers. The bill works by making it an offence for the animals to be kept captive, bred, imported, or exported.
This bill will, however, allow the legitimate research and rescue of animals in distress.
“We’ve known for some time now that cetaceans are a highly intelligent, social, deep-diving species whose needs simple cannot be met in a tank,” says Dr. Dubois, the BC SPCA’s chief scientific officer. “Scientific evidence shows that confining whales and dolphins causes them physical and mental pain and suffering.”
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, who happened to sponsor the bill in the House of Commons, said that this is something Canadians have clearly wanted, stating that we "want the cruel practice of keeping whales and dolphins in captivity to end.”
Following the announcement, people have been sharing their excitement on social media. Many are applauding Canada for taking steps forward in the right direction.
Following the recent announcement of Bill S-203 that makes it a criminal offence to keep dolphins, wheels and cetacean captive, Narcity reached out to Marineland in Ontario.
According to Marineland, they will continue to comply with all animal welfare legislation in Canada.
“What makes S-203 remarkable legislation is the fact that while amending the Criminal Code of Canada -- a law that applies equally to all Canadians in all circumstances, Parliament sought to include exemptions to what is otherwise a criminal act. Doing so acknowledged Marineland’s role as a custodian for the cetacean populations that call Marineland home, and specifically acknowledged that Marineland Canada’s actions are not inherently animal cruelty,” stated Marineland Canada.
“Marineland Canada looks forward to S-203 receiving Royal Assent because S-203 affirms that cetaceans living at Marineland Canada does not amount to animal cruelty, despite the allegations of uninformed, professional activists.
Marineland Canada continues to be a facility where children can learn about and be inspired by cetaceans without invading their natural habitats or disturbing cetacean populations that live in the ocean.”