AWI Expresses Disappointment over SeaWorld's Lawsuit against California Coastal Commission Orca Decision

Orcas Need the Ocean, not a Bigger Box!

Washington DC—The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) is disappointed to learn that SeaWorld San Diego has filed a lawsuit against the State of California, challenging an October 8 decision by the California Coastal Commission (CCC). The CCC voted unanimously to approve SeaWorld’s proposed Blue World project, conditional on SeaWorld ending the breeding program for its orcas. The CCC’s decision to attach this condition to the permit approval was not only progressive and humane, but was fully within its legal authority under the Coastal Act - squarely within the remit of the Commission to “maintain, enhance, and restore marine resources.”

Dr. Naomi Rose of AWI said, “SeaWorld continues to fight the public’s growing opposition to holding whales and dolphins in captivity. The California Coastal Commission acted well within its authority by setting conditions on the permit to build Blue World. SeaWorld should stop producing more captive orcas to suffer short lives and focus solely on the welfare of the existing whales in its care.”

AWI reiterates its strong support for state legislation proposed by Assemblyman Richard Bloom, who introduced a bill in the California Assembly in 2014 to prohibit the public display and breeding of captive orcas in the state. While the CCC permit conditions could have eventually accomplished this goal, SeaWorld’s challenge of the CCC’s decision makes clear that the only way to consistently and reliably protect the welfare of orcas in California is to do so by law. We urge the Legislature to revisit this policy question in 2016.


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