A leading force for animal rights in the United States backs federal bill to end the capture and breeding of whales for public display
The SWIMS Act is the first federal legislation the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) has helped develop as it begins working with members of Congress
WASHINGTON, July 26, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — The only organization in the United States dedicated solely to protecting the legal rights of nonhuman animals today announced its support for a new bill that would end the future capture and breeding of whales for public display.
Presented by representatives Adam Schiff (D-California), Jared Huffman (D-California), and Suzan Delbene (D-Wash.) as well as Senator Diane Feinstein (D-California), the Welfare Enhancement in the Marine Environment Act (SWIMS) is the first federal legislation that the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) has helped develop.
“As part of our commitment to advocating in the halls of power for the freedom of self-governing non-human beings like whales, we are honored to have been able to work with a passionate, longtime animal advocate like Rep. Schiff in preparing of this the introduction of the bill,” said Courtney Fern, director of government relations and campaigns for the NhRP. “We look forward to working with Rep. Schiff’s office, the cosponsors of the SWIMS Act, and the strong coalition of endorsement organizations to ensure its passage.”
The SWIMS Act would amend the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 to prohibit the taking, importing or exporting of orcas, beluga whales, pilot whales and false killer whales for the purpose of public display, unless the animal is transported to a sanctuary. or released into the wild. The bill further amends the Animal Welfare Act to prohibit any breeding of these species for future public display.
Known for his pioneering nonhuman animal rights litigation, in particular the case in progress of Happy the elephant in New Yorkthe NhRP anticipates and looks forward to further involvement in federal legislation that will “meaningfully protect nonhuman animals, now and in the future,” said the NhRP Founder and Chairman. Steven M. Wise.
The bill references scientific evidence of the cognitive, emotional and social complexity of whales and recognizes the importance of prioritizing the autonomy of whales as individuals, which the NhRP applauds. Similar language underlies the NhRP’s legal arguments. The bill also highlights how whales suffer when they are held in captivity in tanks that cannot meet their complex physical, emotional and social needs.
Earlier this month, the NhRP filed a motion for re-argument in the New York one highest court following a 5-2 decision rendered in its historical litigation seeking Happy the elephant’s right to freedom and release from the Bronx Zoo to an elephant sanctuary. The two dissents in Happy’s case are harsh criticisms of the majority and have been hailed as a historic mark of progress in the global fight to secure basic legal rights for nonhuman animals. The NhRP has filed its first complaint in California – on behalf of three elephants held captive at the Fresno Chaffee Zoo who are victims of the continuous import elephants to US zoos — in April.
“Science is clear that species like whales and elephants need and want to live freely, just like us,” Wise said. “We think it’s time for the law to catch up.”
Click on here to read the full text of this legislation.
About the Non-Human Rights Project
The Nonhuman Rights Project is the only civil rights organization in United States working through litigation, legislation and education to secure the fundamental rights of nonhuman animals.
SOURCE Non-Human Rights Project