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Policies on Fisheries Act Authorizations related to Cetaceans in Captivity and Reproductive Materials of Cetaceans

March 2021

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Introduction

In June 2019, provisions were introduced in the Fisheries Act and the Criminal Code aimed at ending the captivity of cetaceans.

As a result of these provisions, the following activities are prohibited, except where an authorization or a permit to conduct these activities is issued by the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard pursuant to s. 23.1 to 23.4 of the Fisheries Act:

The following activities also need to be authorized through a licence from the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard pursuant to s. 23.1 to 23.4 of the Fisheries Act, or a licence issued by the relevant province, pursuant to s. 445.2 of the Criminal Code:

The following policies have been established by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) to process applications aimed at obtaining authorizations, permits or licences from the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard to conduct one or more of the activities described above.

Of note:

General policy guidelines and principles

The text below establishes detailed policy principles to guide the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard in the exercise of his or her discretion in issuing authorizations, licences or permits under s. 23.1 to 23.4 of the Fisheries Act.

In all cases, the Minister retains absolute discretion to make exceptions to these principles. The Minister may also impose any conditions that he or she considers appropriate in the authorizations, permits or licences issued under s. 23.1 to 23.4 of the Fisheries Act.

The amendments to s. 23.1 to 23.4 of the Fisheries Act and s. 445.2 of the Criminal Code aimed at ending the captivity of cetaceans, as well as policies that support the operationalization of these legislative provisions, do not change protections provided for under existing Indigenous or treaty rights related to the harvest of wild cetaceans.

The main intent of s. 23.1 to 23.4 of the Fisheries Act, as well as s. 445.2 of the Criminal Code, is to phase out the captivity of cetaceans in Canada. With regard to the addition of new cetaceans in captivity in Canada, decisions will be informed by the following principles:

Additionally, with regard to potential exports of living cetaceans or reproductive materials of cetaceans from Canada, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard, in making licensing or permitting decisions, will be guided by the following principles:

In applying these policies, a decision that is in the best interests of the cetacean’s welfare means a decision that aims to improve or maintain (i.e., prevent a decline in) the health and well-being of the animal. As part of his or her decision, the Minister may consider, inter alia, whether the captive conditions promote or protect the animal’s physical health, autonomy, healthy social groupings, or the expression of natural behaviours.

Policies

Request an authorisation, permit or licence

If you are seeking to obtain an authorization, permit or licence under the Fisheries Act in relation to captive cetaceans or reproductive materials of cetaceans, you can contact Fisheries and Oceans Canada through the following email address: CCO-BCC_Info@dfo-mpo.gc.ca.

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