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Park Board votes unanimously to explore banning cetaceans

Last Updated Mar 10, 2017 at 6:31 pm PDT

(Courtesy Vancouver Aquarium)

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VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – If the Park Board has its way, the future will not include belugas, dolphins or porpoises at the Vancouver Aquarium.

The board has voted unanimously to prevent the display of the marine mammals and to prohibit any more coming to the attraction.

That doesn’t mean an immediate ban.

The decision requires a change in a bylaw and it will be a few months before that new law is presented to the public for debate.

Green Party Commissioner Stuart Mackinnon brought the motion forward.

He says the three cetaceans that live at the Aquarium now could stay in Vancouver.

“The Marine Rescue Centre at the foot of Main Street is not in a park. So the ceteceans that they have can be moved there.”

NPA Commissioner John Coupar says whales don’t need to be studied at aquarium.

“We have tremendous ability to fly a drone over a whale and take a sample in the wild. There are many things that we can do that don’t require whales in captivity.”

Coupar’s fellow NPA Commissioner Erin Shum had concerns over some of the legal and financial implications of enacting a cetecean ban.

Three cetaceans, a porpoise, a dolphin and a false killer whale live at the aquarium.The attraction’s two resident belugas died in the fall. Five of the aquarium’s other belugas are being loaned out to other facilities.

Just weeks ago, the aquarium unveiled plans to phase out its beluga display by 2029. It envisioned bringing back the belugas out on loan, but gradually closing the public display.

The aquarium was about to embark in a $100-million beluga tank expansion.

Dozens of people addressed the park board over two nights with emotions running high.

Aquarium CEO John Nightingale left right after the vote, and did not make himself available to reporters.