Canada has made history today with the passing of Bill S-203: Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act. Bill S-203 will prohibit breeding, imports, exports and live captures of whales, dolphins and porpoises across Canada, building on Ontario’s Bill 80, which was passed on May 28th, 2015.
Bill S-203 was first introduced in 2015 by Senator Wilfred Moore (who has since retired), and then sponsored by Senator Murray Sinclair. Upon passage through the Senate, it was championed by Green Party Leader Elizabeth May in the House of Commons.
“The passage of Bill S-203 is a watershed moment in the protection of marine animals and a victory for all Canadians. Whales and dolphins don’t belong in tanks, and the inherent suffering these highly social and intelligent animals endure in intensive confinement can no longer be tolerated,” said Rebecca Aldworth, Executive Director of Humane Society International (HSI)/Canada in a statement. “We congratulate the sponsors of this bill and the Canadian government for showing strong leadership in responding to public will and sound science on this critical issue.”
Leading marine scientist Hal Whitehead added, “The living conditions for captive marine mammals cannot compare to their natural ocean environments in size, nor in quality. We thank the federal government and all those involved in the passage of Bill S-203, so that our laws can finally align with the Canadian peoples’ values and end this cruel practice.”
HSI is at the forefront of a global movement to end the captivity of cetaceans for entertainment. HSI/Canada has been a central part of a broad coalition of key stakeholders, including organizations, scientists and parliamentarians, working to ensure the passage of Bill S-203.
“Canada is now on the right side of history with the passing of Bill S-203: Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act. Thirty years ago, I was sent a very disturbing photo of a dolphin named Duke, a bottlenose dolphin who for decades performed at Marineland in Niagara Falls until his demise in the early 1990s,” said Ric O’Barry, Founder & Director of Dolphin Project. “Duke was in fact the most beat up, severely abused dolphin I had ever seen. Thank you Cara Sands for standing up for Duke when nobody else would. This one is for you and Duke. It’s been a long time coming.”
Two aquariums in Canada currently house captive cetaceans, including the Vancouver Aquarium in British Columbia and Marineland of Canada, in Niagara Falls, Ontario. The following cetaceans in their inventories will sadly be grandfathered into this legislation:
Vancouver Aquarium – one Pacific white-sided dolphin (Helen)
Marineland of Canada – one orca (Kiska), five bottlenose dolphins (Tsunami, Echo, Lida, Sonar and Marina) and over 50 beluga whales
A coalition of over 20 leading marine scientists and stakeholder organizations have endorsed Bill S-203. Bill S-203 was supported by Humane Society International/Canada, Animal Justice, Humane Canada, marine scientists Dr. Lori Marino and Dr. Naomi Rose of the Whale Sanctuary Project, Ontario Captive Animal Watch, Phil Demers, the former head trainer at Marineland, World Animal Protection, Dr. David Suzuki, the Jane Goodall Institute, and more.
Bill S-203 phases out the captivity of cetaceans (i.e. whales, dolphins and porpoises) in Canada, except for rescues, rehabilitation, licensed scientiﬁc research, or cetaceans’ best interests.
Leading marine scientists agree that whales and dolphins suffer great psychological and physical harms in captivity, including isolation, chronic health problems, abnormal behaviour, high infant mortality and extreme boredom.
We thank the key Parliamentarians and staffers who championed and sponsored this legislation: MP Elizabeth May, Senator Wilfred Moore, Senator Murray Sinclair, MP Fin Donnelly, MP Gord Johns, Senator Peter Harder, Senator Dan Christmas, MP Nathan Cullen, MP Sean Casey, MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, MP Mario Beaulieu, MP Monique Pauzé, MP Nick Whalen, MP Will Amos, Senator Elizabeth Hubley, Senator Janis Johnson, Senator Mary Jane McCallum, Steve Parkinson, Martin McKendry, Archie Campbell, and many more.