Vision Vancouver prospects reveal views on whales in captivity at aquarium

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      Five of the nine candidates vying for Vision Vancouver nominations for park board want to see the Vancouver Aquarium phase out its whale and dolphin exhibits.

      In separate phone interviews, Katherine Day, Catherine Evans, Brent Granby, Trish Kelly, and Coree Tull told the Georgia Straight they would prefer the aquarium and the park board work together to end the practice of cetacean captivity at the Stanley Park facility. Both Kelly and Tull asserted it's important to support the aquarium in finding a business model that works without whales.

      "There are aquariums throughout the world that are not keeping whales and dolphins in captivity and still have viable business models," Kelly said.

      Day and Evans noted they are against cetacean births in captivity but don't have a problem with the aquarium rescuing injured marine mammals. As a father who's taken his kids to the aquarium, Granby said he's "torn" about the issue.

      "There's a growing awareness that it's unethical to keep animals in captivity, particularly the belugas and the dolphins," Granby said. "But I think, at the same time, we need to recognize the good work that's being done at the aquarium in terms of some of those sustainability issues."

      The other four candidates—Graham Anderson, Naveen Girn, Mark Mitchell, and Sammie Jo Rumbaua—told the Straight they are undecided on the issue. Rumbaua said she wants to hear more from "both sides" before taking a stand.

      "The aquarium clearly needs to show the benefit," Mitchell said. "I'm not sure at the moment that they are doing a good enough job of explaining and showing what the benefit is."

      On Friday (June 13), the aquarium will hold the grand opening of the first phase of a three-part expansion.

      In April, the park board voted to ask its staff to prepare a report on the aquarium's cetacean operations by July. The park board's agreement with the aquarium is up for review in 2015.

      Vision park commissioner Trevor Loke, who has already been nominated for reelection, told the Straight he wants to meet with aquarium staff before "announcing" his opinion.

      At a June 22 nomination meeting, Vision will add four candidates to its park-board slate.


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      Politq Critiq

      Jun 11, 2014 at 11:56am

      Jeez Vision must really be on the ropes these days throwing anyone a bone for votes


      Jun 11, 2014 at 1:14pm

      What does "phase out" mean? How many years will the redress of this cruel and unusual confinement take? Why shouldn't a business model that omits large marine mammals succeed? (The Monterey Aquarium is certainly a far more successful entity than the Vancouver Aquarium). And yet, the Vancouver Vision candidates here are all hedging their bets and uttering the same old weasel-words of any politician. It's a real shame for all Vancouverites, but especially for the seals, the sea lions, the dolphins and the whales.

      Shamefreul Display

      Jun 11, 2014 at 3:00pm

      @Forest - you do realize that no party really cares about this issue enough to force the closure right? Vision ran the board when the aquarium was looking to expand back in the day (2011), members of the board included Sarah Bylth and Constance Barnes, but honestly what in reality has changed since the aquarium opened in 1956 till now? Absolutely nothing! If you look at all the other parties and their stances you will find similar levels of apathy when it comes to this issue with no concrete solutions. Green might do something but the likelihood of Green getting a majority is about as likely as Pluto becoming a planet again.

      That my friend, is a spade

      Jun 11, 2014 at 3:34pm

      If I were a politician I'd run a mile from the disgusting display of intimidation, vandalism and hurling of profanities and personal attacks that made up last night's protest at the aquarium. Mob mentality at its worst, whoever organized that bunch of screaming ill informed banshees and called it a peaceful protest should be ashamed of themselves.