Stop Marineland from exporting belugas to a US venue that will allow breeding and public display
Last June, Canada passed legislation to ban the keeping, breeding and trade of cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) for entertainment. Now we need your help to uphold it.
Under Bill S-203 – the Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act, cetaceans can only be imported and exported for the purpose of scientific research and if it's in the best interest of the animals. However, Fisheries and Oceans Canada has not yet provided any information on how they will be assessing this.
The new law is being tested as Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut is requesting a US permit to import five beluga whales from Marineland in Niagara Falls stating their purpose is for research. However, we know they will allow the animals to breed and intend to keep the whales on public display. A life in captivity means a life of suffering for these whales and while we can't release them back into the wild, we can make sure this is the last generation of belugas in captivity.
While our friends in the US are asking the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to deny the import permit, we must do our part to make sure the Canadian export permit is also rejected. Please send a letter to Canada’s new Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, urging her to deny the export permit when it comes before her.
We cannot allow these whales to be shipped to another tourist facility that can’t abide by Canadian regulations.
Isn’t any venue better than Marineland for these beluga whales?
While the belugas at Marineland are overcrowded, Mystic Aquarium is already at capacity and its tanks are even smaller (the depth is only 16.5ft – the same depth as the belugas are long). Furthermore, Canada’s new law prohibits the breeding of cetaceans in Canadian aquariums and marine parks, ensuring that no more beluga whales have to enter into a life of suffering in captivity. Since beluga whales can live up to 50 years, this immense suffering must be prevented. Mystic Aquarium will allow the belugas to breed and keep them on public display which just proliferates the animal welfare problem our new Canadian law intended to stop.
What if the scientific research is important for the whales?
If the scientific research is important for the purposes of improving the welfare of cetaceans, there should be no reason why it couldn’t be conducted at Marineland. This would eliminate the need to transport the animals which can be extremely stressful and would ensure that the animals are not bred as there is legislation here to prohibit it. Mystic Aquarium should invest the time, money and staff effort needed to improve conditions at Marineland and conduct their research there. This solution could improve the welfare of the whales and protect the integrity of US and Canadian law.
Why does the export of Marineland’s belugas to Mystic Aquarium undermine legislation?
Canada’s Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act prohibits breeding, display, capture and trade of cetaceans for entertainment purposes. Mystic Aquarium has stated their intention to breed these whales and keep them in the same enclosure as their other belugas that are on public display for entertainment – activities that are now illegal in Canada. Furthermore, the US Marine Mammal Protection Act prohibits the public display of marine mammals of a depleted population. The mothers of the beluga whales to be imported were captured from the depleted population of beluga whales in the Okhotsk Sea in Russia. Allowing this trade sets a dangerous precedent and fuels demand for capturing more belugas from the wild.
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