Ontario has banished the breeding and purchase of orcas.
That province’s Bill 80—which amended the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and which received its final reading today at Queen’s Park in Toronto—will ban the acquisition and breeding of orcas. Facilities that possessed captive orcas prior to the introduction of the bill will not be required to release those marine mammals.
Vancouver animal-rights activist Annelise Sorg of No Whales in Captivity told the Straight by phone that such legislation “is good news”. She added, with reference to Ontario’s stated intention to improve standards of care for all captive marine mammals: “There’s still a way to go. There is no way to keep whales or dolphins comfortable in captivity. So unless there is an effort to eradicate captivity...”
Community Safety Minister Yasir Naqvi announced in a statement on March 23 that the Ontario legislation tabled that day would ensure “that Ontario has the best standards of care possible for marine mammals”. Naqvi said that the province would also be assessing possible improvements that could be made regarding the display of marine mammals, including enclosure size and water quality.
A report commissioned by Ontario in October 2013 and written by UBC marine biologist David Rosen recommended new standards with regard to such upgrades. “It is our opinion that the current standards of care for marine mammals in display facilities are insufficient,” Rosen’s report stated.
A "technical advisory committee" is studying new guidelines and is expected to make them public this summer.
“The only thing we would like to see is the complete eradication of the cruel practice of keeping whales and dolphins in captivity,” Sorg said. “What the government should really be doing is banning the importation of any cetaceans into Canada.”