Earlier this year, the Canadian government finally passed a bill that would prevent the import and export of cetaceans in Canada. Specifically, the bill was aimed at stopping aquatic animals, such as dolphins and whales from being put in captivity. However, ever since this bill has passed, it seems that Marineland is exempted from these new laws.
While the bill bans any captivity of future animals, animal activists were disappointed to discover that there was a catch. The bill, Bill s-203, contain a grandfather clause, which allows parks, such as Marineland to be able to keep the animals in captivity that they already have in their parks. However, while Marineland was exempted from the bill for the animals that they already had in captivity, it seems that they are now also exempted from another part of the bill.
When the bill was passed in June, it was also stated that it is now an offense for animals to be imported or exported from Canada. However, it was announced today that Marineland has been granted approval to ship two of their beluga whales off to Spain. Narcity has reached out to Marineland for comment on this and will update this story when a response is received.
According to the Globe and Mail, Fisheries Minister Jonathan Wilkinson has approved the permits and has lifted the ban for Marineland so they will be able to export two of their whales over to a park in Spain.
Wilkinson states that this transport has been approved after the federal government decided that the Spanish facility was better equipped to look after them.
The two whales are now being shipped to Oceanographic, a Spanish facility that is owned by Ocean Wise. The whales will be shipped there for a research project that will be focusing on the impact of noise on belugas.
Wilkinson states, "Our view is it is in the best interest of the whales. It will be a better facility for these whales and they have also committed there will be no captive breeding, which is important for us."
Wilkinson states that when the new law went into place, there were two exemptions when it came to exporting whales- if it is in the best interest of the whales, or if it is to conduct scientific research.
In this case, Wilkinson that both of these exemptions have been met.
According to the Globe and Mail, Marineland currently has 50 beluga whales that are currently in captivity.
Last year, Marineland also applied for five beluga whales to be transported to a facility in the United States before the new law came under effect.
Yet, Marineland has not re-applied and the fate of these five whales is still unclear.
*Disclaimer: Cover photo used for illustrative purposes only.