JURIST Digital Scholars
Canada House of Commons approves bill to end captivity of cetaceans

Canada’s House of Commons approved a bill Monday known as the “Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act.”

While the short title of the bill includes whales and dolphins, the Act defines cetacean as “any member of the cetacean order, including a whale, dolphin or porpoise.” The Act amends the Criminal Code to ban people from owning or keeping a cetacean in captivity. It also bans people from breeding cetaceans or having any “reproductive materials of cetaceans, including sperm or an embryo.” Anybody who violates this “is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction and liable to a fine not exceeding $200,000.”

The Act also amends two other acts: The Fisheries Act and the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act. Both of these acts were amended to say that nobody shall move, import, or export a living cetacean.

The Act provides some exceptions for cetaceans that are being kept in captivity for rehabilitative purposes or that are already in captivity at the time that the law is passed. The Act also provides exceptions for scientific researchers. Finally, the Act provides exceptions for people who move cetaceans “when the cetacean is injured or in distress and is need of assistance.”