Vancouver Aquarium protesters target gala fundraiser patrons

A loud group of protesters confronted patrons of the Vancouver Aquarium's annual fundraising gala as they arrived for the event on Thursday night.

Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act proposes to limit live capture of whales and dolphins

Protesters outside the Vancouver Aquarium say they are encouraged by a recent Senate bill that proposed to end the capture of live cetaceans. (CBC)

A loud group of protesters confronted patrons of the Vancouver Aquarium's annual fundraising gala as they arrived for the event on Thursday evening.

The protesters, who were calling for the end of whales in captivity, were bolstered by a new bill in the Senate that could formally end the practice.

"More and more people are coming out against captivity of whales and dolphins and as we saw there's a new Senate bill against it, so we're here to show our support for that," said Jeff Matthews, a volunteer with Sea Shepherd Society.

RAW VIDEO | Protesters confront Vancouver Aquarium patrons

"The way this movement has gone in the last couple of years, I think it's only a matter of time before whales and dolphins are banned from captivity."

The bill called the Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act from Nova Scotia Senator Wilfred Moore proposes to amend the Fisheries Act to prohibit live captures — with the exception of injured animals. The capture of wild cetaceans currently requires a license from the Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans.

Nearly two decades ago, Vancouver Aquarium became the first aquarium globally to commit to no longer capturing cetaceans from the wild for display, but it did recently add a false killer whale that staff rescued from a beach near Tofino, B.C. The aquarium's animals have also been breeding with animals at other aquariums in North America

The bill also proposes to regulate the export and captive breeding of cetaceans with an amendment to the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act.

Aquarium staff defended the conservation work it does, and reported the gala raised $360,00 for the facility.

Last year a Vancouver Park Board motion to ban whales and dolphins at the aquarium was dropped after the previous board was defeated in the November civic elections.

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