British Columbia

Vancouver Aquarium agrees to cetacean ban in new 35-year lease agreement

The Vancouver Aquarium has agreed to a cetacean ban as part of a new 35-year lease agreement with the Vancouver Park Board.

Aquarium's parent company, Ocean Wise, commits to no longer putting whales or dolphins on display

Volunteer observers at the Vancouver Aquarium watch Qila the beluga. The aquarium first made a commitment to stop keeping cetaceans at the facility at the beginning of 2018. (John Healey/Vancouver Aquarium)

The Vancouver Aquarium has agreed to a cetacean ban as part of a new 35-year lease agreement with the Vancouver Park Board.

It's also dropping its legal action against the park board over lost revenue because of the ban.

In 2017, the Vancouver Park Board voted to ban keeping whales and dolphins in captivity at the aquarium. Ocean Wise followed with a lawsuit against the city, claiming the ban resulted in millions of dollars in lost revenue and constituted a breach of contract.

Ocean Wise said in an emailed statement it has agreed to no longer display cetaceans in Stanley Park.

A trainer works with beluga whale Aurora at the Vancouver Aquarium in Vancouver, B.C., in 2014. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

Research will continue

An internal email from the president of the aquarium said the new agreement will allow the organization to launch its five-year strategic plan.

"Everything we do will be to drive real and practical conservation — whether that's protecting a vital ecosystem, preventing the extinction of endangered species or ensuring our resources are managed sustainably for future generations."

Ocean Wise CEO Lasse Gustavsson on the lease agreement with the Vancouver Park Board 

New Ocean Wise CEO Lasse Gustavsson says dropping its lawsuit against the park board was always about the lost revenue, not the cetacean ban and says he is looking forward to big changes at the Vancouver Aquarium. 1:38

The aquarium also promises to continue research programs it says have contributed to the global knowledge of marine wildlife.

The Vancouver Aquarium has been operating in Stanley Park since 1956.

It has not kept orcas in captivity since 2001 and has pledged to rely exclusively on captive animals for breeding.

Earlier this month, Ottawa passed legislation banning whale and dolphin captivity in Canada.

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