After what animal rights groups are saying was “years of delay and obstruction,” a bill was passed by the Senate on Tuesday evening that would outlaw keeping whales and dolphins in captivity for display.
Known as Bill S-203, the Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act, the bill will now move to the House of Commons where it will be sponsored by Green party leader Elizabeth May.
The bill would make it an offence to keep captive, breed, import, or export a whale, dolphin or porpoise. There are exemptions for cetaceans currently in captivity, as well as for rescue and rehabilitation efforts.
Bill S-203 was originally introduced by Senator Wilfred Moore in December 2015, then sponsored by Senator Murray Sinclair after Senator Moore retired.
The bill was also studied for nearly a year by the Fisheries Committee, which heard evidence from countless experts over 17 committee meetings.
The move has been applauded by national animal activist group, Animal Justice.
“Canadians understand that whales and dolphins are complex, intelligent beings who deserve far more than a life of boredom and misery in captivity,” said Camille Labchuk, executive director of Animal Justice.
Only two Canadian facilities still keep whales and dolphins in captivity—Marineland and the Vancouver Aquarium.
After passing Bill S-203, the Senate also voted in favour of Bill S-238, the Ban on Shark Fin Importation Act, sponsored by Conservative Senator Michael MacDonald.