Quantcast
Popular
Captive dolphins at Marineland Antibes in France. John Clift

France Bans Captive Breeding of Dolphins and Whales While SeaWorld Still Invests in It

By Laura Bridgeman

The French government passed new legislation earlier this month aimed at phasing out all dolphin and whale captivity, a move that reflects growing public awareness and concern over the poor living conditions cetaceans are forced to endure in captivity.


The new law prohibits keeping any cetacean captive, with the ultimate goal being to entirely shut down the archaic industry throughout France. For those unfortunate individuals who are already held captive at facilities such as Marineland Antibes in the French Riviera, the legislation stipulates that no captive breeding can be done. It also prohibits direct contact between captive cetaceans and humans—putting an end to swim-with-dolphins programs—and requires that pools and tanks be made "significantly larger." Facilities have been given up to three years to comply with the new rules.

Environment Minister Segolene Royal had signed an earlier version of the law that imposed strict controls on dolphin breeding, but then decided to take a "more radical" approach, resulting in a total phase-out of the industry. According to the ministry, this decision was influenced by information that captive animals were being drugged in some facilities.

France joins a growing list of countries that have begun to phase out and ban cetacean captivity. In 2013, India banned cetacean captivity outright; Canada is currently considering doing the same with Bill S-203. Many facilities located in countries that have not yet taken such measures are phasing out their cetacean exhibits on their own, including the Baltimore Aquarium, the Vancouver Aquarium and the Barcelona Aquarium.

However, the global cetacean entertainment industry leader—the U.S. based company SeaWorld Inc.—has so far refused to divest from this industry that has been proven unethical and harmful for dolphins and whales.

Last year, SeaWorld did announce that the company would phase out its orca breeding program—which involved separating mothers from young calves—and pledged to stop theatrical-type shows, claiming that it would instead present orcas to the public in a more "naturalistic" way. The move drew praise from many groups, including the Humane Society of the United States. However, at the time of the announcement, a ban on the very things SeaWorld had pledged to give up was being considered by California legislators. Sponsored by state assembly member Richard Bloom and drawing huge public support, the Orca Protection and Safety Act was signed into law just six months after SeaWorld's announcement, leading many to question the company's motivations behind their seemingly noble voluntary pledge.

While SeaWorld has agreed that this generation of orcas will be their last (although a calf was born last month, meaning that SeaWorld could display orcas for another 50 years), they have doubled-down on exploitation of other cetacean species. The company's San Antonio facility recently unveiled a massive swim-with program that uses beluga whales and dolphins, and Seaworld currently holds 176 cetaceans at facilities across the country. Questions also remain around what the company's breeding policies are for other non-Orca species.

David Phillips, director of Earth Island Institute's International Marine Mammal Project, said France's new law is a "crucial recognition that … breeding ban[s] must include all orcas and other dolphins," and points out that "SeaWorld is desperately holding onto the myth that ending orca breeding solves all their public relations problems."

"Orcas may be the largest members of the dolphin family, but they are still dolphins," Phillips added. "It is similarly cruel and abusive to hold all species of dolphins in concrete tanks. All dolphin breeding must be ended."

SeaWorld may be betting that the public will see nothing wrong with dolphin or other whale captivity as long as it does not involve orcas. But the numbers seem to suggest otherwise: In a statement issued Tuesday, the company revealed that their attendance and revenue plunged more than 15 percent in the first quarter of 2017, translating into a $61 million loss. This is a continuation of what appears to be a serious downward trend in SeaWorld's business ever since the shocking documentary Blackfish hit theaters in 2013.

There exist other options for the cetaceans it holds captive, though SeaWorld has so far refused to explore them.

"Dolphins and whales of all species can and should be retired to seaside sanctuaries for retirement or, where feasible, returned to the wild," said Phillips. He sits on the board of the Whale Sanctuary Project, a new organization that aims to establish the world's first cold-water sanctuary that can accommodate orcas. The project recently received a $1 million dollar cash infusion to support their efforts. "The France edict is more proof that it is time for SeaWorld to wake up to the reality that people don't want to see dolphins and whales being used for any reason," said Phillips.

While France has made progressive changes that reduce suffering for cetaceans, SeaWorld continues to disregard entirely what the public, and the bottlenose dolphins, belugas, and orcas themselves might want—to the detriment of its business.

Take action: Sign the petition to force SeaWorld to stop lying about its treatment of cetaceans.

Laura Bridgeman is director of Sonar, an organization that advocates for dolphin and whale personhood, and Campaign & Communications Specialist at Earth Island's International Marine Mammal Project. Reposted with permission from our media associate Earth Island Journal.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Health
Pexels

5 Ingredients for Health: Starting with Food

On Food Talk with Dani Nierenberg, Dr. Robert Graham—board-certified physician and founder of FRESHMed NYC—combines mainstream medical practices with therapies inspired by ancient wisdom: an integrative model of medicine. "My dad was a biochemist, so I grew up in this integrative model. One of the things that really stood out is my mom was distrustful about the conventional Western model. She still thinks she's the only doctor in the house, because food is such a powerful medicine, especially from her culture," said Graham.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Malte Mueller / Getty Images

When Profit Drives Us, Community Suffers

By David Korten

As I was reading the current series of YES! articles on the mental health crisis, I received an email from Darcia Narvaez, professor of psychology at University of Notre Dame. She was sending me articles being prepared for an anthology she is co-editing with the working title Sustainable Vision.The articles present lessons from indigenous culture that underscore why community is the solution to so much of what currently ails humanity.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
The Revelator

Interactive Map: Air Pollution in 2100

By Dipika Kadaba

Having a little trouble breathing lately? That's no surprise. Air pollution is already bad in many parts of the country, and climate change is only going to make it worse. Even though many industries are reducing their emissions, a warming climate could actually offset these reductions by intensifying the rates of chemical reactions and accumulation of pollutants in the environment.

Keep reading... Show less
Health
ddukang / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Is Apple Cider Vinegar Good for You? A Doctor Weighs In

By Gabriel Neal

When my brother and I were kids back in the '80s, we loved going to Long John Silver's.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Animals

Dumpster Debacle Distracts From Serious Spike in Whale Deaths

This week, a video of a failed attempt to put a dead, 4,000-pound whale into a tiny dumpster made the rounds on the internet, garnering chuckles and comparisons to Peter Griffin forklifting and impaling a beached sperm whale on Family Guy.

The juvenile minke whale washed up on Jenness Beach in Rye, New Hampshire on Monday morning, NBC 10 Boston reported. It was found with entanglement wounds, so researchers with the Seacoast Science Center and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) wanted to move the carcass from the beach to a lab for a necropsy to study its death.

Keep reading... Show less
Adventure
Muir Woods, which costs $10 for entry, will have free entry on Sept. 22. m01229 / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

Visit Any National Park for Free This Saturday to Celebrate 25th National Public Lands Day

If you're stuck for plans this weekend, we suggest escaping your city or town for the great outdoors.

This Saturday marks the 25th National Public Lands Day, organized by the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF).

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Climate
A glacier flows towards East Antarctica. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center / CC BY 2.0

Temperatures Possible This Century Could Melt Parts of East Antarctic Ice Sheet, Raise Sea Levels 10+ Feet

A section of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet that contains three to four meters (approximately 10 to 13 feet) of potential sea level rise could melt if temperatures rise to just two degrees above pre-industrial levels, a study published in Nature Wednesday found.

Researchers at Imperial College London, the University of Queensland, and other institutions in New Zealand, Japan and Spain looked at marine sediments to assess the behavior of the Wilkes Subglacial Basin during warmer periods of the Pleistocene and found evidence of melting when temperatures in Antarctica were at least two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels for periods of 2,500 years or more.

Keep reading... Show less
Energy
Oil well in North Dakota. Tim Evanson / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Pipeline Leaks 63,840 Gallons of Produced Water in North Dakota

A pipeline released 63,840 gallons (1,520 barrels) of produced water that contaminated rangeland in Dunn County, North Dakota, the Bismarck Tribune reported, citing officials with the North Dakota Department of Health.

Produced water is a byproduct of oil and gas extraction, and can contain drilling chemicals if fracking was used.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!