Anyone who has ever watched the harrowing documentary Blackfish will no doubt shudder at the thought of dolphins and whales being kept in captivity for human entertainment.
These beautiful giants deserve to have vast oceans to swim in, where they can live out long, healthy lives on their own terms.
Cramped tanks and pools where they are expected to perform for cheering crowds are no place for these intelligent mammals, who need space, companionship and stimulus.
There are sadly many such creatures whose lives are made short and miserable by being spent in captivity. However, some progress has been made, with Canada having just passed an applause-worthy new bill.
Canada’s House of Commons have just passed a bill which will make it illegal to hold a whale, dolphin or porpoise in captivity. This new offence carries a fine of up to $200,000 for parks and aquariums which hold cetaceans.
Dubbed the ‘Free Willy’ bill – after the heartwarming 1993 family movie – it is hoped this bill will usher in a new era of animals rights legislation, with Canada at the forefront.
According to The Globe and Mail, this bill also bans the import and export of marine mammals in Canada, except for circumstances involving scientific research or when it is in the ‘best interest’ of the mammal.
INCREDIBLE! Keeping whales and dolphins in captivity is going to be banned in Canada! Legislation that bans keeping whales, dolphins, and porpoises in captivity for entertainment has just passed through Canadian Parliament. This is truly an historic victory! 🐳🐬 #cdnpoli #S203 pic.twitter.com/fZUD6gkRyg
— HSI/Canada (@HSI_Canada) June 10, 2019
This ocean-friendly legislation was first introduced nearly four years ago, having first been sponsored in 2015 by the since retired Liberal senator Wilfred Moore.
According to CBS News, Independent Sen. Murray Sinclair made the following statement before the Commons fisheries committee:
The bill is a simple and straightforward one. It works from the presumption that placing these beautiful creatures into the kinds of pens that they have been kept in is inherently cruel.
BREAKING: Canada just BANNED whale and dolphin captivity by passing #BillS203! Thank you to everyone who fought to make this historic victory for the animals possible! 🐳 #cdnpoli pic.twitter.com/GBsDnTvkid
— Animal Justice (@AnimalJustice) June 10, 2019
Animal rights activists have been delighted by this news, viewing it as a huge step forward and a significant victory.
Animal rights organisation Humane Canada tweeted:
Nothing fantastic ever happens in a hurry. But today we celebrate that we have ended the captivity and breeding of whales and dolphins. This is news to splash a fin at.
Green Party Canada tweeted:
When we work together, good things happen.
This is a combined effort from @ElizabethMay, Senators Moore and Sinclaire, key Liberal and NDP MPs, NGOs, marine scientists and everyday people across Canada.
Nothing fantastic ever happens in a hurry. But today we celebrate that we have ended the captivity and breeding of whales and dolphins. This is news to splash a fin at. #bills203 #emptythetanks #cdnpoli Thank you everyone. pic.twitter.com/7j49YkEmpy
— Humane Canada (@HumaneCanada) June 10, 2019
#Breaking: When we work together, good things happen.
— Green Party Canada (@CanadianGreens) June 10, 2019
As reported by PETA, just two Canadian facilities – the Vancouver Aquarium and Marineland— still hold bottlenose dolphins, beluga whales, and orcas.
These facilities will be permitted to keep their current cetaceans, however they will be banned from either breeding the animals or confining new ones.
Well done to Canada for doing the right thing and recognising how the happiness of these magnificent mammals far outweigh any entertainment value. Hopefully other countries will soon follow suit.
If you have a story you want to tell send it to UNILAD via [email protected]
Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.