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Vancouver mayor wants to phase out whale captivity program

Digital writers

Thursday, April 10, 2014, 12:36 PM -

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson says he'd like to see the program that keeps whales and dolphins in captivity at the Vancouver Aquarium phased out.

The comments are the latest development in a renewed debate about keeping large marine animals at the popular Stanley Park facility.

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Roberston said he's hopeful that the aquarium and the city's park board can work together to come up with an agreement and include a review that will be "informed, thoughtful and inclusive."

He added, "I do not however support a city-wide referendum on the issue, as the ability to phase out the holding of whales and dolphins in captivity is within the Park Board’s authority."

A statement released by the aquarium on Wednesday however, says that Robertson may not understand the real conservation efforts.

"Dolphins and belugas at Vancouver Aquarium play a direct and vital role in engaging people in key ocean issues,'' the aquarium said. "In addition, with rapid environmental changes in the arctic where belugas live, continued research, much of which must be done in marine science centres like the Vancouver Aquarium, is critical to their future.''

Ultimately, the Vancouver Park Board will have the final say, and they're looking for more information before making a decision.

According to The Canadian Press, Aaron Jasper, the chairman of the city's park board, has announced that he'll ask staff at the next meeting for a public report on keeping the animals in captivity. He said the report will include best practices from around the world on marine-mammal rehabilitation.

The Vancouver Aquarium is home to two beluga whales and two Pacific white-sided dolphins.

With files from The Canadian Press

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