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Proposed Orca 'Blackfish' Law on Hold, Further Study Needed

By Gabriella Khorasanee, JD on April 11, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The Orca Welfare and Safety Act was just effectively put in hibernation, a/k/a, interim hearings where it won't be the subject of hearings, or put to a vote until 2015.

In 2013, the film "Blackfish" came out exposing the nature of animal captivity and the effects on Orcas. As a result, earlier this week Assemblyman Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) introduced AB 2140 -- the Orca Welfare and Safety Act -- that would prohibit orca shows, and the import, export, and breeding and holding of orcas in captivity for "performance or entertainment purposes," reports the Independent Voter Network.

Stalling AB 2140

Upon seeing that the votes were just not there in the State Assembly's Committee on Water, Parks and Wildlife, Bloom agreed to move it to interim hearings for "further study," reports The Wall Street Journal. He stated: "It's unfortunate that much of the conversation has been fueled ... by fear and invective and misinformation. ... It's clear that many committee members are simply unprepared to make a decision on the bill."

On the Defense

Meanwhile, SeaWorld, who would have much to lose if this law were passed, has been on a campaign of its own since the release of "Blackfish" to dispel rumors about orcas in captivity. And of course, commercial concerns come to play since orca shows -- and related merchandise -- are big money makers for SeaWorld, as well as the theme park providing thousands of jobs.

President of SeaWorld San Diego Park John Reilly stated: "That argument is not based on credible peer-reviewed science," John Reilly, president of SeaWorld San Diego Park. ... It's based on emotion and a propaganda film," according to The Wall Street Journal.

California Leads the Way

With time on their hands, legislators on both sides of this contentious issue will have time to educate themselves on the facts, and decide whether SB 2410 is the right answer.

Interestingly, New York has also been considering a similar orca ban -- even though there are no killer whales in the state. Advocates are trying to get similar bills in front of the Florida and Texas Legislatures, since SeaWorld has parks in Orland and San Antonio, says The Wall Street Journal.

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