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Senate Passes Bills to Ban Whale Captivity and Shark Fin Products

Yesterday was a big win for marine life in Canada.

After a legislative fight that lasted years, the Senate passed a bill that will ban keeping cetaceans like whales and dolphins in captivity. The bill, S-203, was first introduced in 2015 and will now move through the House of Commons by May of next year.

Two establishments in particular are targeted by the bill: the Vancouver Aquarium and Marineland in Niagara Falls. While the Vancouver Aquarium has already said it will no longer showcase whales or dolphins – arguing instead that its institution stands for the animals’ conservation – Marineland has strongly opposed the bill.

While activists hope captive animals will be moved to an open water seaside sanctuary, the bill seeks to phase out captivity over an undetermined period of time. The breeding ban will ensure no animals are born in captivity once the bill passes through the House. Violators of the new law will be forced to reckon with fines up to $200,000.

Yesterday also saw the Senate pass Bill S-238, which will ban the import and export of shark fin products. While shark finning is already illegal in Canada, we are the third-largest importer of shark fins in the world. Shark fins are primarily seen as luxury seafood and retail for around $400 USD per kilo.

It is estimated that the world’s shark population has declined 80 per cent over the last 50 years, a statistic often cited in proponents of Bill S-238. The bill will now be debated further in the House of Commons.

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