Two captive beluga whales are to be moved from the Marineland theme park in Canada to a Spanish facility, despite the Canadian government recently banning live imports and exports of these marine mammals, and the capture of wild whales, dolphins and porpoises for aquaria.
The Canadian Fisheries Minister approved the permits for the move under exceptions to the new laws, which can be granted if it is in the best interest of the whales or if it is for conducting scientific research.
WDC has been pushing for this move to be stopped. Canada was highly praised for the passing of legislation to end trade and captivity in whales and dolphins, but allowing exports to facilities overseas, unless to dedicated sanctuaries, opens up dangerous loopholes that could seriously jeopardize Canada’s progressive stance on the captivity issue.
‘It’s more than 15 years since whales and dolphins were imported into the EU, says WDC anti-captivity campaigner Cathy Williamson. ‘We are working hard to phase out captivity in the EU and elsewhere, and bringing more belugas into the EU (Spain) is in stark contrast to public opinion, which is turning away from whale and dolphin shows.
‘Furthermore, the transport of two belugas to a small display pool in Spain where conditions are known to be poor, is a serious risk to their health and welfare. Captive whales and dolphins should only be transferred to address serious health and welfare concerns or to dedicated sanctuaries where they can live out their days in more natural conditions or be rehabilitated for a return to the wild.’
The two belugas will be sent to Oceanografic, an aquarium in the Spanish city of Valencia, but the move highlights the problems associated with keeping whales and dolphin is captivity, and the need to build sea sanctuaries.
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