The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today released a proposed federal rule to improve standards for the handling, care and housing of captive marine mammals.
The long-discussed protections, in the works for nearly two decades, would amend Animal Welfare Act regulations concerning captive marine mammals, with a focus on orcas (also called killer whales) and dolphins. As for any major changes, there is now a 60-day period where the USDA will accept commentary, but the regulations are expected to go into effect.
"It is an important animal welfare step, at a time when the nation is questioning more than ever if cetaceans should be put on display at all in captive environments at for-profit ventures," Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the U.S., said in a statement.
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The USDA proposed rule would affect certain sections in the regulations for the protection of all marine mammals in the United States relating to space requirements, water quality, indoor facilities, outdoor facilities, and interactive programs, like "swim with the dolphin" businesses. The USDA is basically saying that it will now oversee these programs again.