Ontario strengthens protection for marine mammals

Ontario is moving ahead with enhanced standards of care for marine mammals – such as  dolphins, belugas and walruses – to ensure both greater protection and improved treatment.

These new standards of care, reflecting advice from an expert report by University of British Columbia marine biologist Dr. David Rosen, will be among the best in the world.

New standards would be developed in a number of areas including:

  • The size of pools used to house marine mammals
  • Environmental considerations such as bacteria content, noise and lighting
  • Appropriate social groupings
  • Regulations for the handling and display of marine mammals

The government will establish a technical advisory group composed of veterinarians, animal welfare groups, industry, and enforcement partners to provide advice on the final standards and timing of their implementation. This group will report back with their findings within six months.

The government will also be moving forward with legislation to prohibit the future breeding and acquisition of orcas (killer whales) and establish Animal Welfare Committees at every facility with marine mammals. These committees will provide both oversight and access to additional protections such as veterinarians with expertise in marine mammals.

“Our government is moving forward with stronger protections for marine mammals to ensure these unique animals receive the best possible treatment and care. This is something that Ontarians expect and these animals deserve. These higher standards of care, along with prohibiting any future breeding or acquisition of orcas in Ontario, are both the right thing to do and builds on our government’s ongoing efforts to have the strongest animal protection laws in Canada.”

—    Yasir Naqvi, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services


§  Ontario will be the first province to set specific standards of care for marine mammals.

§  Ontario has the toughest animal protection laws in Canada.

§  There are over 60 zoos and aquariums in Ontario — more than any other province.

§  Ontario provides the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) with $5.5 million annually to strengthen the protection of animals.


§  Find out about the work of the OSPCA

§  Review the University of British Columbia Report on Standards of Care for Marine Mammals in Captivity