Mamidosewin (meeting place, walking together)

Vancouver Aquarium wrong on whales in captivity

Vancouver Aquarium wrong on whales in captivity

Vancouver Aquarium wrong on whales in captivity

Published on 20 July 2015 Publications by Senator Wilfred Moore (retired)

This month, a three-week-old beluga calf fathered by one of the Vancouver Aquarium’s whales, Imaq, died at SeaWorld in San Antonio, Texas. The Vancouver Aquarium currently has six beluga whales on loan to American marine parks for captive breeding purposes. A seventh Vancouver-owned whale, Nanuq, died a violent death in February of a broken jaw at Orlando SeaWorld.

Incidents like these are why I believe that it is time to phase out the keeping of whales, dolphins, and porpoises in captivity in Canada. It is a moral issue. That is why in June, I introduced Bill S-230, the Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act. The bill would impose a federal ban on captive breeding, imports, exports, and live captures of these highly intelligent, emotional, and social creatures. However, S-230 allows for the rescue and rehabilitation of whales and dolphins found in distress (such as Chester, the Vancouver Aquarium’s false killer whale). In addition, research can continue on individuals who cannot be returned to the wild, as well as on whales and dolphins already in captivity.

John Nightingale, CEO of the Vancouver Aquarium, has publically opposed the Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act, claiming that it will eliminate the facility’s rescue, rehabilitation, and research efforts. This claim is false. However, the bill will end the Vancouver Aquarium’s captive breeding program with U.S. marine entertainment parks, which Dr. Jane Goodall has rightly condemned as serving no scientific purpose. The bill will also end the captive breeding program at Marineland in Niagara Falls, Ontario.

Following the recent death of the beluga calf at SeaWorld, I would challenge Nightingale to explain, in specific terms, the scientific purpose of breeding beluga whales at American entertainment facilities, whose purpose is to generate a profit. I further challenge Nightingale to explain why legitimate research objectives cannot be fulfilled using rescued individuals and currently captive whales and dolphins.

If you support the Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act, please contact federal political parties, candidates, and parliamentarians and ask them to adopt the bill as policy going into the fall election. Together, we can do the right thing.