In a victory for dolphins, the city of Barcelona has announced an official ban on captive cetaceans, encompassing dolphin exhibits at aquariums and captive breeding facilities.
Reported by El Periodico, the move was supported by the full City Council of Barcelona. Late last week, the city announced that it “will not allow the exhibition or the breeding of cetaceans, the property of which falls directly or indirectly to the City Council.”
In 2016, after years of campaigning on behalf of captive dolphins, FAADA (Foundation for the Adoption, Sponsorship, and Defence of Animals), an animal protection agency based in Barcelona, launched the #AdeuDolphine campaign. The campaign urged Barcelona Zoo to close its dolphinarium, that no dolphins be bred or forced to put on shows within the city limits, and that the six Barcelona Zoo dolphins be sent to a sanctuary.
In December 2016, FAADA found success when it presented the City Council of Barcelona with over 35,000 signatures from the public, politicians, and celebrities who objected to the construction of a new dolphinarium at Barcelona Zoo. That same year, the organization proposed a ban on dolphin captivity and breeding.
Now that the first two objectives have been approved by the city, FAADA recommends that the City Council dolphins be sent to The Aegean Marine Life Sanctuary in Lipsi, Greece or The Baltimore National Marine Sanctuary in the United States. Doing so would make Barcelona the first city in Spain to be completely free of captive cetaceans. “[The] dolphins have been waiting for a long time, so it is essential that you act quickly and that you start as soon as possible,” FAADA wrote.
Since the release of the critically-acclaimed documentary “Blackfish,” the public has grown aware not only of the plight of captive orcas but the issues that stem from marine mammal captivity. SeaWorld, which is notorious for its orca shows and other forms of cruel entertainment, has consistently reported that it is struggling with ticket sales. Earlier this year, CEO Joel Manby stepped down from his position within the company.
Barcelona isn’t alone in banning cetacean captivity. Vancouver Aquarium recently announced an end to its captive dolphin and whale program and the Dominican Republic banned the sale of dolphins for entertainment. In an act of philanthropy, entrepreneur and Memphis Meats investor Richard Branson announced that his company Virgin would partner with the National Aquarium in Baltimore to open North America’s first dolphin sea sanctuary.