Whale sanctuary chief defends plan against Marineland report


PORT HILFORD – The head of the international Whale Sanctuary Project (WSP) refutes the conclusions of a report by Marineland Canada last week which claims that the site of the refuge planned by his organization for the whales of the marine park on the east coast of the Nova Scotia is “polluted” and “unacceptable”. for marine mammals.

Additionally, WSP chief executive Charles Vinick said the Niagara Marine Zoo, Ont., has been “in direct contact” with him about the possibility of moving at least one of his whales to the proposed sanctuary. near Port Hilford just days before the publication of its findings. online and was himself charged by Ontario police with unauthorized use of marine mammals.

“They [Marineland] raised a few environmental issues in our discussion, but we talked about them as things that we are well aware of and looking at, and that we fully anticipate that they are not an issue, or that we can fix the problem,” said Vinick told The Journal in a phone interview from his offices in California on Thursday (December 16).

“To say that the entire proposed sanctuary site is polluted is simply not accurate. If we had found anything, we would have abandoned the site. But we didn’t.

He added: “The irony here is that I was in direct contact with their lawyer [the week before he put the report out] about the possibility of whales from Marineland coming to the sanctuary. It was a very cordial discussion. We even set a date to continue these discussions after the first of the year. At no time did Marineland mention this report which they were obviously working on.

According to the Canadian Press, Niagara Regional Police on Monday (December 13th) charged Marineland with allegedly using dolphins and whales for “entertainment purposes during the month of August, without authorization.”

In the CP article, the park denied the allegations and blamed the charge against it on “ideologically-driven activists”, stating, “Our animal presentation contains marine mammals engaging in behaviors they exhibit in ocean environments These behaviors are combined with an educational scenario delivered by Marineland staff, providing a foundation for understanding these important marine species.

No one from Marineland was available to comment on the newspaper’s WSP report, but the 72-page “Preliminary Analysis of Whale Sanctuary Project” published Monday (December 13) makes a strong case against the organization and its plans to Port Hillford.

“The proposed site is objectively unacceptable for a marine mammal facility,” he says. “The entire proposed sanctuary site is polluted and closed to fishing as ‘contaminated’ due to ‘pollution’ by unrevoked orders issued by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada. There are two large unremediated toxic gold mine tailings dump sites from two historic Stamp Mill sites within or adjacent to the sanctuary site (one is directly on the shore the sanctuary, the other is located on the Barachois stream, which flows directly into the sanctuary site). And the site contains the unrestored wreck of a car ferry at Barachois Cove.

But, according to Vinick, Marineland does not have current, accurate data to back up its claims about pollution and contamination in the area.

“Nobody does,” he said. “The last survey of this area in Port Hilford Bay was, as far as I know, between 2005 and 2012. There has been no more recent review of this. They [DFO] keep it closed because no one seems to want to open it. Nobody cares. There is no fishing there of these species [molluscs]. So we’re doing this data collection, this whole environmental review, right now and for 18 months. »

Additionally, he said, tests so far have revealed no signs of the type or extent of environmental degradation that Marineland says is compromising seawater on or around from the shrine site. “We found no problems in salt water, water surveys or water assessments – either for the chemicals they are concerned about in shellfish or for arsenic or mercury [from gold mining]”, he noted, adding: “We are now conducting a much more in-depth study and sharing all of this with the regulators of the [Nova Scotia] Ministry of the Environment to determine if there is a problem.

Vinick said tests revealed arsenic in a freshwater pond adjacent to the shrine site, but he noted that “there are many different types of arsenic. There are inorganic and diverse subsets of two different designations. There are many scientists [identifying] which types are harmful to humans and others. But it’s [also] not anywhere near us. We only found it [arsenic] in fresh water, not in salt water.

In fact, he says, Marineland makes several mistakes in describing the boundaries of the sanctuary site itself. Specifically, he noted, the report erroneously includes Barachois Cove in its findings. “The creek, that shallow area to the southwest, was never part of the sanctuary. They [also] pretend there’s a wreck out there. It’s not a wreck. It’s a barge. And, of course, the owner will remove this barge.

Vinick pointed out that WSP routinely discloses the results of its research and testing to the government agencies it relies on for regulatory clearances and approvals. “This includes all literature going as far back as we can find data,” he said. “We merged all this information. This is all part of what we analyze and what we submit to the government.

Ultimately, Vinick said, “We have no indication that the site is not acceptable. We have all indications that the site is acceptable. It’s not a contest with Marineland to see who can find what. The only thing that matters is animal welfare.

Vinick, who confirmed he has not “been in contact” with Marineland since the report was published, believes the organization is clearly concerned about its reputation and the “number of animal welfare groups in Canada raising questions” about its practices.

“Maybe they think that by attacking us it will partly stop. But I don’t see how something in us is serving the problems they are facing?”

As for the future of cetacean transfers from Marineland, he said: “We are still certainly interested in continuing discussions with them depending on what happens to the issues they are dealing with that are unrelated [to us].


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