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Court sides with filmmaker who took on Vancouver aquarium’s captivity practice

Vancouver Aquarium
Global News

British Columbia’s Appeal Court has ruled in favour of a filmmaker whose documentary criticized the Vancouver Aquarium’s practice of keeping beluga whales and dolphins in captivity.

It says a lower court judge erred in ordering the filmmaker to remove 15 segments of his documentary that the aquarium said could cause the facility irreparable harm.

Justice Mary E. Saunders says in a written ruling that the evidence does not support claims that Gary Charbonneau’s one-hour documentary brought the facility bad publicity.

READ MORE: Animal rights groups seek intervenor status in Vancouver Aquarium’s attempt to overturn cetacean ban

Saunders says aspects of “Vancouver Aquarium Uncovered” that are highly critical come from clips of public hearings where aquarium officials have spoken and of their public positions and budgets, juxtaposed with interviews of experts.

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The aquarium won an injunction in April 2016 that forced Charbonneau to remove nearly five minutes of material taken from its website and blog for the film, which YouTube refused to remove at the facility’s request.

Charbonneau’s lawyer Arden Beddoes says the removed content will be replaced in the film, which he says legitimately criticized practices that are increasingly debated by the public in Vancouver and elsewhere.

READ MORE: UPDATE: Filmmaker ordered to edit Vancouver Aquarium documentary