Community Safety and Correctional Services Minister Yasir Naqvi updated the public on his proposed regulations for marine mammals in Ontario with a press conference this morning. With the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals as part of his portfolio, Naqvi is bringing forward an amendment to the OSPCA Act today that will make the possession and breeding of an Ocra illegal, with the last remaining captive Orca Kiska being grandfathered. Based off of some recommendations of the Rosen Report scientific panel on marine mammal regulations, as well as the Canadian Association for Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA), Naqvi also updated today that new regulations would include; technical committees to oversee facilities, new regulations for tank sizes and enclosures, regulations for contact, lighting, noise water, handling and display, as well as, new administrative requirements for record keeping and inventory.
Overall, the language used today in this announcement was scaled back and softened from Naqvi’s previous announcement in January. Although Naqvi made no mention of the CAZA report, his announcement today is now closer to that industry report than the stricter language of the Rosen Report – with the most notable omission being no language on a formula or criteria for ALL wild capture. If this is the case, Marineland – who were learned today sits on the advisory panel over enforcement – has been successful in lobbying against restrictions that would place barriers on them importing more wild caught belugas and dolphins from Russia. This would be a major roll back. Naqvi’s unwillingness to talk about any animals other than Orca’s at his press conference today is troubling and could be another sign of Marineland’s successful efforts to block this substantive and recommended change.
Still, through this process we are at a place where it appears definitive that Kiska will be the last captive Orca ever in Canada. After SeaWorld successfully sued and got their Orca Ikaika back from Marineland, the facility has showed a willingness to import another Orca. They were unsuccessful, but this amendment ensures that they cannot revisit that, or revisit any attempts to breed or artificially inseminate Kiska. For a country with a 51 year history of Orca captivity, which has seen dozens of captive Orcas suffer for human profit, this ensures that history ends with Kiska. That is substantive.
Obvious questions still remain and these are the questions that we have put to Yasir Naqvi in response to the announcement today.
1. Will the “administrative record keeping” for inventory be publicly accessible?
2. Who is on the advisory panel for the enforcement of these new regulations?
3. Who has lobbied your office on these amendments?
4. The Rosen Report set out a criteria for ANY future import of a wild caught marine mammal – what happened to that language?
5. What are you hopes for successful enforcement against multi-millionaries? What is the current success rate of OSPCA convictions against individuals worth over $1 million?
6. Will new tank size standards see Marineland alter their facilities in any way?
7. Who decides who gets to sit on new “technical committees”?