Canada's Shame



Canada Allows the Export of Five Belugas on 5/14/21 to Mystic Aquarium in CT

Despite Protections of 2019's Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act 



Beluga 1 Beluga 2


May 14, 2021 - Belugas Were Transferred

Despite efforts of LCA and the animal community both in the U.S. and Canada, five Beluga whales were exported from Marineland Canada in Niagra Falls, ON, on 5/14/21 and arrived at Mystic Aquarium in Mystic, CT on 5/15/21. The Beluga whales endured a grueling journey that was over 22 hours long, including a two-hour flight to Connecticut. Already, Mystic Aquarium has stated their intention to breed the Beluga whales. In a Boston Globe article, a spokesperson for Mystic acknowledged they eventually want to allow the Beluga whales to breed naturally. 

LCA condemns the decision made by the Hon. Bernadette Jordan, Canada's Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, to approve Marineland's request for an export permit and believes the Canadian Government failed to extend the protections of the Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act to the exported Beluga whales. By issuing the export permit, the Canadian Government is sending these Beluga whales to become research subjects with an unknown future most likely destined to further exploitation.


May 12, 2021 - Belugas Being Prepared for Transfer

LCA has learned the Hon. Bernadette Jordan, Canada's Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, has quietly approved an export permit requested by Marineland Canada to transfer 5 Beluga whales to Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut, U.S. LCA calls on the Canadian Government to halt the transfer, rescind the permit and ensure all 5 whales will be protected from export.

Reports indicate that a team of staff from Mystic Aquarium are currently on site at Marineland preparing the whales for export to Mystic. The Mystic team did not have to comply with the mandatory 2-week COVID-19 quarantine restrictions, as typically required by the Canadian Government.  The Beluga whales will be forced to endure a traumatic 10 hour journey from Marineland Canada to Mystic Aquarium.

Neither the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) nor Minister Jordan have publicly issued a statement announcing the export permit has been granted to Marineland Canada. Despite several opportunities for Minister Jordan to make her stance known, the permit was issued in secrecy, out of public view and scrutiny.  LCA condems the complete lack of tranparency in this process and is calling for the immediate public release of the export permit and supporting documentation.

LCA also calls upon Minister Jordan to uphold the intention of the historic Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act which was passed in 2019.  Under the Act, captive breeding and entertainment performances involving Beluga whales are prohibited in Canada. The U.S. does not have a similar law, and although breeding and entertainment performances are prohibited under the U.S. import permit issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service, the permit expires in 5 years, and leaves the whales vulnerable to breeding, further export and being used in entertainment performances thereafter.

"Minister Jordan and the DFO have undermined the public trust.  Transferring the whales outside of protections of Candian law is unacceptable.  The transfer is being rushed, carried out in complete secrecy and is not in the best interest of the Belugas," states Chris DeRose, LCA President & Founder.


April 2021 - Working to Stop Marineland Canada from Exporting 5 Beluga Whales to the United States

LCA is working to stop the export of 5 Beluga whales: Sahara, Jetta, Kharabali, Havok and Havana from Marineland Canada to Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut. In order for the export to occur, an import permit needs to be granted by the U.S. governments' National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and an export permit needs to be granted by Canada's Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, the Honourable Bernadette Jordan.

The NMFS issued the import permit to Mystic Aquarium; it is valid until August 31, 2025. LCA and Friends of Animals plan to appeal the U.S. decision.

The Canadian government has not yet decided whether it will issue the export permit that would allow Marineland to export the whales. LCA is asking the Hon. Bernadette Jordan to deny the export permit.

Both Marineland and Mystic have filed for their respective permits under the guise of scientific research. Under the Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act, the export permit can be issued if it is for the purpose of conducting scientific research or keeping the cetacean in captivity if it is in the best interests of the cetaceans welfare.

In the original permit application to the NMFS, Mystic proposed Study 7, which was a "Behavioural and Reproduction Study"; however, NMFS denied this study. Mystic removed the study from their application and had to submit a Breeding Prevention Plan that outlined how Mystic would prevent the whales from breeding for the duration of the import permit. However, the permit terms only last for 5 years, leaving the whales vulnerable to breeding thereafter.


 5 Reasons Why LCA is Opposing the Export of Beluga Whales:

1) Canada has Enacted a Historic Animal Protection Law for Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises (Cetaceans)

In July 2019, Canada passed the Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act, (formerly Bill S203) into law, which signifies Canada's commitment to permanently phase out the cycle of cetaceans in captivity. The Act reflects positive steps by the Canadian Government to recognize the intelligence of these magnificent creatures and recognizes the harmful effects of captivity. The Act prohibits the breeding of whales, dolphins, and porpoises, using them in performances for entertainment purposes and restricts importing and exporting them.

2) Exporting the Beluga Whales Outside of Canada Would Remove the Protections of the Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act 

Exporting the Beluga Whales to Mystic Aquarium would remove them from the protections of Canadian law and leave them vulnerable to breeding and being used for entertainment performances. Although these are prohibited under the import permit issued by the NMFS, the permit is only valid for 5 years and would leave the Beluga whales vultion of Canadian laws that were meant to protect them.

3) The Transport and Relocation is Harmful and Potentially Fatal

The journey from Marineland to Mystic Aquarium would take a minimum of 10 hours in the best-case scenario. In order for the Beluga whales to be exported, they would need to be captured, hoisted out of their tanks with cranes, transported on trucks, wait to board their aircraft, fly to Connecticut, be unloaded from the plane, and transported again by truck to Mystic Aquarium. Studies have documented increased stress levels when captive cetaceans have been transported, and it would create stress for both the Beluga whales being exported from Marineland and the Beluga whales already living at Mystic, to redefine and create new social bonds. In some cases, the whales never fully recover from the stress of transport and social upheaval, which can lead to fatality.

4) The Export Could Set a Dangerous Precedent for the Remaining 46 Beluga Whales at Marineland Canada

By allowing Marineland Canada to export the 5 Beluga whales, it would set a dangerous precedent to allow for the export of other whales at Marineland to countries with weaker animal protection laws. 

5) Exporting the Beluga Whales Outside of Canada Would NOT be in Line with the Intention of the Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act 

Exporting the whales would allow the cycle of captive breeding to perpetuate, making way for new generations of captive whales - the very practice that Canada recently banned.


LCA's Work to Stop the Export in Canada

LCA is mounting pressure on the Honourable Bernadette Jordan, Canada's Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, to reject Marineland Canada's request to export 5 Beluga whales to Mystic Aquarium in Mystic, CT. As of April 12, 2021, the Hon. Jordan has not issued the permit and her office has confirmed via email they have requested more information from Marineland.

While LCA appreciates the diligence of Hon. Jordan's office, it reiterates the call to reject the export permit. "These Beluga whales: Sahara, Jetta, Kharabali, Havok and Havana, need our protection. We ask the Minister to exercise her authority to reject Marineland's export permit request; clearly, finally and soon," said Chris DeRose, LCA's Founder and President.


LCA Joins Lawsuit to Stop Beluga Import into the United States

The Lawsuit

January 2021 - LCA joined a lawsuit launched by Friends of Animals (FoA), an international animal advocacy organization, against the NMFS to challenge the import permit issued by the NFMS. LCA joined the lawsuit as co-plaintiff.

The suit, entitled Friends of Animals and Last Chance for Animals v. Gina Raimondo and National Marine Fisheries Service was filed at the United States District Court, District of Connecticut (Case file number: No. 3:20-cv-01312-AWT), and was brought to court in March 2021. 

March 2021 - The United States District Court for the District of Connecticut's failed to reject the import permit issued by the NMFS to Mystic Aquarium.

The lawsuit challenges NMFS's decision to issue the import permit on the basis that the permit did not comply with the requirements of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) or the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). 

LCA and FoA are of the view that NMFS failed to comply with the MMPA because the agency did not impose the heightened scrutiny on the permit issuing process that is required when dealing with depleted stock marine mammals such as those at issue in this case. The Beluga's being imported from Marineland had at least one parent that was considered depleted stock. The MMPA was put into place to protect certain species and populations of marine mammals who are, or may be, in danger of extinction or depletion as a result of man's activities (depleted stock marine mammals) and it is the view of LCA and FoA that the NMFS failed to do that in this case. LCA and FoA are also of the view that NMFS failed to comply with NEPA because it failed to consider all significant aspects of the environmental impact of the transfer when completing its environmental assessment.

The Fight Continues

While LCA was preparing to appeal the U.S. court's decision, the Canadian government issued the export permit allowing Mystic Aquarium to import the Belugas to their Connecticut facility.

LCA instated round-the-clock surveillance to monitor and document the transfer of the Belugas, to ensure that any issues with their transportation would be captured on film. LCA further called out the Canadian government and has been taking steps to demand that such a transfer never be permitted again.


Take Action - How You Can Help

This is a Global Issue. Tell the Canadian Government to Uphold Canada's Historic Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act; Properly Care for Canada's Remaining Beluga Whales and Deny Future Beluga Whale Export Permits to Exploitive Theme Parks in the U.S. or Any Other Country.

1. Email and Call the Honourable Bernadette Jordan, Canada's Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. / Phone: (613) 996-0877

Sample Correspondence

Subject: Reject All Future Requests for Beluga Whale Export Permits to Exploitive Theme Parks and Uphold the Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act.

To: Hon. Bernadette Jordan,

The Canadian Parliament passed the historic Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act in 2019, ensuring the whales at Marineland are protected from being used for captive breeding and entertainment purposes. Please keep these whales in Canada where they are protected and deny future export permits to exploitive animal theme parks in the U.S. or any other country.

The Canadian Parliament's passage of the Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act was a monumental win for Canada, for animal welfare, and for marine mammals in captivity. Marineland Canada's attempts to export  Beluga whales greatly contributes to the animal welfare issues the Act was enacted to stop.


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