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Senate Moves to Include Whale Captivity & Shark Fin Ban in Government Fisheries Bill

Animal Justice May 15, 2019

The Canadian government is taking firm steps to ensure that whale captivity and the shark fin trade are banned before the next election.

Senator Peter Harder, government representative in the Senate, introduced amendments at the Senate Fisheries Committee this week to Bill C-68, government fisheries legislation. The amendments incorporate a whale and dolphin captivity ban, which is also proposed in Bill S-203, and a ban on the trade of shark fins, which is also proposed in Bill S-238. Both of these private members bills have received considerable support from Canadians, and are currently being considered by the House of Commons. However, time is running out for the House of Commons to pass the bills before the end of June, when Parliament wraps up and election season begins.

By including these protections for whales, dolphins, and sharks in Bill C-68, the government fisheries bill, there is an even stronger chance that these important measures will become law before the parliamentary session ends.

Once Bill C-68 clears the Senate Fisheries Committee, it will be debated and voted on by the Senate, and will then be re-approved by the House of Commons.

Animal Justice applauds the government for its efforts to make sure cruel whale and dolphin captivity is outlawed, and that the brutal trade in shark fin products is eliminated in Canada.

 

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Government Secretly Approves Beluga Export Permits Before Whale Captivity Ban Becomes Law

Animal Justice May 3, 2019

OTTAWA – National animal law advocacy organization Animal Justice says the federal government should revoke or deny beluga export permits to Vancouver Aquarium and Marineland. The two aquariums are secretly attempting to ship beluga whales out of the country before commercial whale export becomes largely illegal.

Vancouver Aquarium apparently owns two beluga whales that it confines at Marineland, and has been granted permits to ship those belugas to another aquarium it runs in Spain. Meanwhile, Marineland is seeking five permits to ship belugas to unknown aquariums in the United States. Beluga whales are an internationally protected species under the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), and cannot be exported from Canada without a federal CITES permit.

Exporting beluga whales from Canada will soon be nearly impossible, with legislation to phase out whale and dolphin captivity expected to pass a final vote in Parliament within weeks. Bill S-203 will make it a criminal offence to confine whales and dolphins. Cetaceans already in captivity grandfathered in. It will also become a criminal offence to breed all whales or dolphins who are in captivity.

Bill S-203 also prohibits the international trade in cetaceans. Export will only be allowed if the government grants a special permit in best interests of the whale, or for science.

Marineland currently confines over 50 beluga whales (some are pregnant), five dolphins, and one orca. Vancouver Aquarium only has one remaining dolphin in its facility, and was banned from acquiring more cetaceans by the Vancouver Parks Board in 2017. Until now, the Vancouver Aquarium concealed from the public that it houses two belugas at Marineland, and instead said it was getting out of the whale captivity business.

Public sentiment is strongly against whale and dolphin captivity, as shown by strong support for Bill S-203, the 2017 Vancouver Parks Board prohibition on whale and dolphin captivity, and a 2015 Ontario law banning orca whale captivity.

“It is shocking that beluga export permits were issued in secret by the government on the eve of whale export being largely outlawed in Canada,” said lawyer Camille Labchuk, executive director of Animal Justice. “The public obviously has an intense interest in the well-being of beluga whales confined by Vancouver Aquarium and Marineland, yet no one was made aware of the permit applications, and the public was given no opportunity to comment on or review this disturbingly secretive, closed-door process.

“Canada is on the cusp of becoming a global leader by passing strong legislation to phase out whale and dolphin captivity, yet the export permits will allow the international whale captivity industry to continue to flourish. Beluga whales shipped abroad can be bred, with their baby belugas condemned to live in the misery of unnatural, concrete tanks and die without ever knowing the freedom of swimming in the ocean. This is completely contrary to the purpose of Bill S-203.

“Instead of allowing Marineland and Vancouver Aquarium to ship whales abroad to expand the captive cetacean industry, the government should support the Whale Sanctuary Project, which is seeking sites in Nova Scotia to build a sea-side sanctuary for retired whales and dolphins.”

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For more information, contact:

Camille Labchuk
Executive Director
camille@animaljustice.ca

Animal Justice

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Senate Passes Bills to Ban Whale & Dolphin Captivity and Shark Finning

Animal Justice October 24, 2018

OTTAWA – National animal law organization Animal Justice is applauding the Senate for passing Bill S-203, the Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act. If passed, Bill S-203 would outlaw keeping whales and dolphins in tiny concrete tanks for display.

After years of delay and obstruction, the legislation passed late on Tuesday evening in a surprise vote, and will now move to the House of Commons where it will be sponsored by Green leader Elizabeth May. Bill S-203 was originally introduced by Senator Wilfred Moore in December 2015, then sponsored by Senator Murray Sinclair after Senator Moore retired.

Conservative Senate Whip Don Plett repeatedly used procedural delay tactics to slow down the legislation. Fed up with his efforts to block Bill S-203 from reaching a final vote, MPs from all parties joined Animal Justice and Humane Society International at a press conference in June to call for an end to the stalling tactics.

“Canadians understand that whales and dolphins are complex, intelligent beings who deserve far more than a life of boredom and misery in captivity,” said lawyer Camille Labchuk, executive director of Animal Justice. “That’s why Bill S-203 has attracted such tremendous support from the public as well as politicians from all parties. Animal Justice is calling on the House of Commons to swiftly pass this groundbreaking measure to protect whales and dolphins. Canada has some of the worst animal protection laws in the western world, but banning whale and dolphin captivity would demonstrate international leadership on animals.”

After passing Bill S-203, the Senate also voted in favour of Bill S-238, the Ban on Shark Fin Importation Act, sponsored by Conservative Senator Michael MacDonald. Bill S-238 also has strong support across party lines.

Fast facts about Bill S-203:

  • Bill S-203 would make it an offence to keep captive, breed, import, or export a whale, dolphin or porpoise. There are exemptions for cetaceans currently in captivity, as well as for rescue and rehabilitation efforts.
  • Bill S-203 was studied for nearly a year by the Fisheries Committee, which heard evidence from countless experts over 17 committee meetings.
  • Only two Canadian facilities still keep whales and dolphins in captivity—Marineland and the Vancouver Aquarium. There is only one surviving dolphin at the Vancouver Aquarium after a spate of deaths, and the facility has publicly committed not to acquire any further cetaceans.
  • Over a dozen other jurisdictions around the world have already banned keeping some or all cetaceans in tanks, including Mexico, France, South Carolina, and California. Ontario banned keeping orca whales in 2015, and the Vancouver Park Board voted to ban cetacean display and captivity at the Vancouver Aquarium in 2017. (The ban is being challenged in court.)
  • The Whale Sanctuary Project plans to build a seaside sanctuary for retired whales and dolphins in Nova Scotia, British Columbia, or Washington.

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For more information, contact:

Camille Labchuk
Executive Director
camille@animaljustice.ca

Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals 

Animal Justice

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