By Sarah MacDonald
Marineland and other animal facilities will be inspected more thoroughly following an announcement Wednesday of tougher regulations over marine animals in captivity.
Community Safety Minister Madeleine Meilleur announced in a press conference a three-point plan to strengthen regulations.
The proposed plan will amend the current Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, said Alison Cross, senior manager, marketing and communications at OSPCA.
It also includes, “creating new regulations to further protect marine mammals in captivity and exploring options for licensing zoos and aquariums,” Cross told Humber News on Thursday.
The announcement comes on the heels of increased protests and media coverage of the alleged mistreatment of marine animals at Marineland, a popular amusement park in Niagara Falls, Ont.
Marineland issued a statement on Wednesday supporting the government’s announcement, saying it will be fully co-operative with the consultation process set to begin next spring.
Marineland Welcomes Ontario Animal Care Regulations. http://t.co/RKkyRoWr
— Marineland Canada (@MarinelandCan) October 10, 2012
“Marineland is fully supportive of the development of standards of care for all animals and the requirement for a provincial permit that would be based on inspections by professionals,” said the statement.
Bill Peters, national director at the Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums, said the province should look to the guidelines and standards of marine animals in captivity set up by the Canadian Council on Animal Care.
Marineland is a member of association and said in a press release it has proposed animal welfare regulations to the province in the past.
There is concern, however, that these laws are more political talk rather any real action.
“I think that it mostly sounds like a politician being a politician and trying to appease both sides of the fence,” Theresa Philon, a long time animal rights activist who has been part of protests at Marineland, told Humber News.
“Clearly, just having stronger laws in place will not be enough.”
“The fact is the animal cruelty laws already in place are not enforced half the time and when they are enforced they are not enforced well,” said Philon.