Today, Canada’s Parliament passed the Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act, which prohibits the wild capture, captivity, and breeding of whales, dolphins, and porpoises. Bill S-203 amends the country’s Criminal Code and a number of other acts making it illegal to confine and breed whales and dolphins and restricts their trade in and out of Canada. Now, the only two facilities in Canada that currently house cetaceans—the Vancouver Aquarium and Marineland—will no longer be able to breed or import cetaceans, use them in a show or performance, and protects those currently in captivity from being used for profit. Under the law—which took more than three years to pass due to delays and obstructions—includes exceptions for rescue and rehabilitation to ensure that whales and dolphins can get aid if they need it, and allows animal sanctuaries in Canada to care for cetaceans if it is in the animals’ best interests. “Whales and dolphins are incredible, majestic creatures who belong swimming free in the ocean—not confined to tiny, miserable concrete tanks,” Camille Labchuk, Executive Director of animal law organization Animal Justice, told VegNews. “This bill is a tremendous opportunity for Canada to be a world leader in protecting whales and dolphins, and polling shows that Canadians overwhelmingly support ending whale and dolphin captivity.” Countries and cities around the world have already banned the confinement of some or all cetaceans in tanks, including Mexico, France, South Carolina, and California. In 2016, non-profit organization The Whale Sanctuary Project announced plans to build the first seaside sanctuary for retired captive whales and dolphins in Nova Scotia, British Columbia, or Washington.

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