Petition to Commissioners
Save Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Conservation
Join this petition to overturn the short sighted cetacean ban by the Vancouver Parks Board and allow the Vancouver Aquarium to continue its crucial marine mammal conservation and education work. More than ever its vital that people connect with marine life and care about its survival. Informing and motivating people about nature is the central to promoting conservation. The Vancouver Aquarium has led the world in marine mammal education and promotes closer connections with them. It has also led the way in the rescue and rehabilitation of dolphins, whales and other sea mammals. It has been the premier environmental interpretation centre on the West Coast, and one of the venues we are most proud to show off when friends and family come to visit. Now all of that is under threat. The narrow political agenda of a few animal rights activists is threatening to silence one of the leading voices for marine conservation on the west coast. Step by step they are reducing the scope of marine life that the aquarium can support. Before long there will be no marine mammals of any kind left. Along with this will be lost the community of professionals, volunteers and supporting infrastructure that has evolved over the years to promote marine conservation. Something that has been lacking in all this is any form of coherent debate on what the real issues are. To clarify, this represents a direct conflict between values for environmental conservation and animal rights. Both positions have merit, so there should be some work towards recognizing the value of each position and working towards a compromise. To date, all change has been very one-sided. Legitimate concerns for the well being of marine mammals can be addressed without closing the aquarium. As it is, few aquariums can match Vancouver standards, even across North America. There are several levels of irony here. One is that as climate change puts new stresses on marine life, its critical that marine research continues to support species under threat. The irony is that if the activists have their way, this leading supporter of marine mammal research will be shut down just as climate change produces progressively more stresses such as disease, changes to the food web, and increased development raises the risks of pollution and habitat destruction. The efforts to save a couple of whales, who were rescued to begin with and are no longer capable of surviving in the wild, could doom the wider community of whales to suffer large scale losses over time as conservation and research is curtailed. The other irony is that the very people complaining about whales in captivity may have had supporters willing to go to criminal lengths just to get their way. It was reported in April that the Belugas which died recently at the Aquarium were most likely poisoned. It is high time we had a referendum on this issue so that a few activists need not hold the West Coast hostage by their narrow and undemocratic views. It's hard to understand how the Board can consider that a few hundred activists represents the local community when the Aquarium has more than a million visitors per year - many of whom are from BC. We need to act now or future generations will lose the opportunities for environmental education, and worse yet may live on a coast where marine mammals can only be reliably found online and rarely in nature.