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Aquarium CEO vows to fight Park Board ban on cetaceans

Last Updated May 16, 2017 at 9:33 am PDT

(James Cybulski, NEWS 1130 Photo)

Vancouver Park Board ban passes with a vote of 6-1

Aquarium supporters turned out to urge the board to reconsider the ban

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Amidst a very boisterous and large crowd, the Vancouver Park Board has approved bylaw amendments that will ban cetaceans at the Vancouver Aquarium moving forward.

The Vancouver Park Board met Monday evening to discuss the draft plan to end the display of cetaceans at the popular facility.

The bylaw changes mean the three cetaceans currently at the Stanley Park attraction will remain, but no others can be brought in.

The aquarium opposes the ban, fearing it will hamper its ability to save injured animals that are found on BC’s coast. It had previously announced it would phase out belugas in captivity at its facility by 2029.

Protesters voiced their support for the Vancouver Aquarium, ahead of the Monday evening meeting. The large group gathered for the “Rally for Rescue” in Stanley Park, urging the Park Board to reconsider the ban.

Aquarium CEO John Nightingale feels the move will severely limit the ability of the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre and he says future whales or dolphins that are saved from the wild may have to be put down if they’re unable to be released back into their habitat because they can’t be housed at the aquarium.

The board asked for options back in January and staff reported back last night with a recommendation to amend the exiting bylaw, creating the ban which was passed by a 6-1 vote.

The aquarium’s current false killer whale, harbour porpoise and white-sided dolphin are grandfathered in but won’t be allowed to participated in any type of shows. 

This issue may be settled at a municipal government level, however, Nightingale is vowing to fight the ban every step of the way in the court system — although it’s not clear what those next steps may be.

Two beluga whales, a mother and daughter, died within 10 days of each other at the aquarium last November. The cause of death was blamed on a toxin but the exact substance couldn’t be identified.