California lawmakers made legislative history earlier this year, drafting a bill that would ban the captivity of orca whales at Sea World San Diego. Following a review of proposed law — Assembly Bill 2140 or The Orca Welfare And Safety Act — legislators tabled the bill in favor of further scientific and legal research. Lawmakers announced their decision to postpone a definitive ruling on the bill on Tuesday, The Associated Press reported.
Supporters Openly Disappointed By The Delays
It will be at least another year before state or federal statutes and regulations ban the captivity of orca whales. “The bill would have banned the import, export, and breeding of orcas while requiring SeaWorld San Diego to move its 10 killer whales out of tanks and into larger sea pens,” ABC News explains. Lawmarker Richard Bloom, and many others, were inspired to act after viewing the recent documentary, Blackfish. Blackfish details the circumstances of trainer Dawn Brancheau’s death. (Sea World Orlando’s only male whale, Tilikum, dragged her underwater.)
“Public outrage over the movie drove 1.2 million people to sign a petition that was delivered Monday to the Assembly by three elementary school students who successfully stopped an overnight school field trip to SeaWorld.Public outrage over the movie drove 1.2 million people to sign a petition that was delivered Monday to the Assembly by three elementary school students who successfully stopped an overnight school field trip to SeaWorld,” ABC adds.
Protecting Orcas: What Is the Legal Precedent (If Any)?
The tabled motion is making headlines and creating quite the stir in legislative news, but — is it the first bill of its kind? Some legislative counsel and research reveals that the answer is yes. “There are federal laws governing the care, capture, and research use of the killer whales,” CNN said. Other federal laws ban whaling and harming whales in the wild and prevent whale watching and other large recreational ships from approaching whales too closely. No past or current laws explicitly prohibit captivity or performances by orca whales.
Legislative counsel and history contains no precedent for protecting captive whales, and lawmakers tabled the very first law attempting to do so on Tuesday. Still, many continue to support the release of the highly intelligent whales.
To learn more, read this.