The Vancouver Park Board has released a set of by-law amendments for its proposed ban on cetaceans at the Vancouver Aquarium that could result in another heated meeting.
The proposed amendments would allow current cetaceans Chester, Helen, and Daisy to stay.
But future dolphins, whales, or porpoises can no longer be brought into the aquarium, put on display, or used for a performance.
Park Board Chair Michael Wiebe says there are options for rehabilitated cetaceans that can’t be returned to the wild.
“If they are deemed un-releasable, they would either go to a different facility or a sea pen or stay at the marine mammal centre here at Crab Park.”
But Wiebe says, there’s a third option.
“They will need to be kept in pens or sea pens outside the Vancouver Park.”
But who is going to pay for it? Wiebe says it would be either the Department of Fisheries or the Vancouver Aquarium.
Park Commissioners will vote on the motion Monday.
The long-simmering issue of whales and dolphins in captivity has come to a boil in recent months after the last two belugas living at the Aquarium died in November.
Last week, the Aquarium reported that a toxin was to blame for the deaths and suggested it may have been introduced by humans.
The Aquarium has said it plans to phase out its cetacean program by 2029, the same year its lease with the Park Board expires.
However, it says it plans to expand its arctic exhibit and bring other belugas it owns, currently housed at other facilities, back to the city before then.
Vancouver Aquarium fires back
Not surprisingly, the Aquarium is outraged.
In a statement, President Doctor John Nightingale says “We find it incomprehensible that the Park Board would impose a proposed ban on rescuing, caring for, and sheltering future sick, injured, or orphaned whales, dolphins, and porpoises that cannot return to their natural habitat because they are unfit to survive in the wild.”
He says they are devastated the Park Board would turn its back on vulnerable cetaceans when they need our help the most.
In a statement, President Doctor John Nightingale says they are devastated and says the Park Board’s actions contradict its words.
He says Commissioners say they support the Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Program yet their ill-conceived ban will condemn to certain death the very animals that need rescuing.