Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Don't Delay in New Rules for Safety of Captive Marine Mammals

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Don't Delay in New Rules for Safety of Captive Marine Mammals

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: Don't delay in new rules for safety of captive marine mammals

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An editorial from the Toronto Star, published Jan. 27:

It all started with a 2012 Star story about Larry, the harbour seal with "an amazing little personality" who had gone blind at Marineland.

According to some of his trainers, he lost his sight after repeated exposure to unhealthy water.

Now his sad story has culminated with the welcome announcement that the Ontario government will develop new standards of care for captive marine mammals such as dolphins, belugas and walruses.

The province will also bring in legislation banning the future breeding and acquisition of orcas (killer whales), the largest marine mammals held in captivity.

This move is long overdue. Captive marine mammals have had little protection under current animal protection legislation. In fact, Ontario is the first province to actually set specific standards of care for marine mammals. Currently there are no specific provisions for marine mammals - other than general standards of care that apply to all animals under the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.

The minister in charge, Yasir Naqvi, promises the new rules on water quality, pool size, handling and display of marine mammals, along with veterinary programs to protect them, will be brought in within six months. They can't come soon enough.

The standards of care will be based on recommendations from University of British Columbia marine biologist Dr. David Rosen, whose report was commissioned by the Ontario government in 2013, following on the heels of a series of investigative stories on Marineland by the Star's Linda Diebel.

Rosen's report concluded that "present standards of care that apply to marine mammals in public display facilities are insufficient."

No kidding.

Diebel's original story on Larry the seal back in August, 2012, also described:

Walruses confined in cramped, waterless pens. …

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