August 27, 2014 10:12 pm

Vancouver Aquarium takes Park Board to court over restrictions on cetacean program

The CEO of the Vancouver Aquarium announced Wednesday that the aquarium will be filing a legal challenge against the Park Board over restrictions to their cetacean program.

John Nightingale says the aquarium “was disappointed with the proposed resolutions put forward by the Vancouver Park Board and, as a result, is requesting a judicial review before the B.C. Supreme Court.”

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He says the aquarium objects to the restrictions placed on it by the Park Board, saying they “serve no legitimate municipal purpose and are beyond the jurisdiction of the Park Board.”

On July 31, the Park Board unanimously voted to keep the cetacean program at the Vancouver Aquarium, but to prohibit most breeding.  The amendment prohibits the breeding of captive cetaceans unless it is a threatened species and the captive breeding is necessary for the survival of the species. The Park Board also ordered the establishment of an oversight committee consisting of animal welfare experts to ensure the well-being of all cetaceans.

Park board chair Aaron Jasper says they are disappointed in the course of action that the Vancouver Aquarium is taking.

“We felt that the bylaw we are going to bring in, which prevents the breeding of cetaceans in captivity, struck the right balance between respecting their good work and the changing public attitude towards the ethics of keeping marine animals in captivity,” says Jasper.

WATCH: Park board chair Aaron Jasper talks about the legal challenge

More than 130 people signed up to speak at a public hearing in late July. The board also received thousands of emails, public comments and inquiries and the debate became a hot button political issue in Vancouver.

The aquarium says their Marine Mammal Rescue Centre program would be compromised by a ban on breeding cetaceans. It says a ban on breeding “is both impractical and unwise from an
animal care and animal welfare standpoint” as many of the animals are non-releasable due to their inability to survive in the wild.

The aquarium also rejects the proposed “Oversight Committee,” which it says will be “composed of animal welfare organizations which would impose animal care and other decisions, thus removing decision making from the Aquarium’s experts who have first-hand, professional experience in planning and executing care practices.”

With files from Yuliya Talmazan

 

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