PORT HILFORD – Contrary to a news report last week, Whale Sanctuary Project (WSP) Executive Director Charles Vinick says he has not been banned from Marineland in Niagara Falls. He actually sees “the potential” for making a new home for its captive cetaceans in Port Hilford.
“For that to be possible, we would want to be in dialogue with Marineland management and work diligently with their animal care staff,” he said.
Vinick made the comments to The Journal in an email over the weekend following a CBC report that, he said, incorrectly stated he had received a letter barring him from entering the marine park—which houses several whales and dolphins—under the Trespass to Property Act, subject to a $2,000 fine if convicted.
“There was an inaccuracy in the article,” Vinick said. “I stated to the reporter that, although I do know of people who have received the notice of trespass, I have not received it.”
The CBC report noted on May 22 that the marine park had “banned a number of people from its premises days before the facility was set to open for the season,” including Vinick. Others who, the article said, received the prohibition “from entering upon the property … at any time for any reason whatsoever” were several animal rights activists who have been vocally critical of Marineland, which will be in provincial court next month facing charges for allegedly using dolphins and whales for entertainment purposes.
Miranda Desa, a lawyer with Last Chance for Animals, told the CBC that the notice applied to her as well as the organization’s “employees, volunteers, representatives, agents, directors and affiliates … What are they hiding? I assisted Last Chance for Animals in filing a complaint against Marineland just last fall … I think that they are seeking to prevent [it] from attending and seeing what’s going on.”
Last Dec. 1 – the day Niagara regional police laid the charges against Marineland – a lawyer for the park issued a 72-page report claiming that the “entire proposed sanctuary site” in Port Hilford was “polluted” and “unacceptable for marine mammals.”
In an interview with The Journal at that time, Vinick repudiated the findings, stating: “To say that the entire proposed sanctuary site is polluted is simply not accurate. If we had found something, we would have abandoned the site. But we haven’t.”
What’s more, he added: “I was in direct contact with their attorney [the week before he put the damming report on the internet] about the potential of having whales from Marineland come to the sanctuary. It was a very cordial discussion. We even set a date to continue those discussions. At no time did [they] mention this report that they’d obviously been working on. Maybe, they think that by attacking us some of this will stop. But I don’t see how anything about us serves any of the issues they’re dealing with?
“We’re still certainly interested in continuing discussions with them depending on what happens with the issues they are dealing with that are not related [to us].”
Regarding the new trespass orders last week, Vinick stated in his email to The Journal on May 22: “I was not expecting this action by Marineland and hope that it does not prevent additional dialogue with [them]. The Whale Sanctuary Project continues to see the potential for some whales currently at Marineland to be relocated to the whale sanctuary in Nova Scotia.”
Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal