Thanks in part to the smashing success of the 2009 documentary “The Cove” and the 2013 documentary “Blackfish,” marine mammal protection has become a more prominent fixture in the public consciousness, and so much so that some areas of the world are pushing to give cetaceans the rights they deserve.
In 2013, India became the very first nation to declare support for viewing dolphins as non-human persons upon banning dolphin captivity in the country.
Just a few weeks ago at the start of February, Romanian politician Remus Cernea drafted Romania’s first ever dolphin personhood bill, which, if passed, would give dolphins the right to life and to be free from cruelty and the threat of captivity.
Now, the city of Malibu, Calif. has added yet another historic move to the fight for marine mammal protection by presenting an official proclamation signed by Mayor Joan House that states both dolphins and whales “deserve the right to their own freedom and lives.”
While Malibu is most well-known to non-residents as the home of pristine white sand beaches and movie stars, it is also the hub of compassionate residents who care deeply about their ocean neighbors. Indeed, Malibu has been at the forefront of oceanic protection for years.
As the city’s new proclamation states, Malibu has urged the “International Whaling Commission and its U.S. delegation to recognize whales and dolphins as living cultural resources” and has also supported the adoption of resolutions in 1992, 1993, and 1994 aimed at strengthening the Marine Mammals Protection Act.
Additional, Malibu city council member Dr. Laura Rosenthal tells OGP that they do a lot to maintain high water quality in the city and have outlawed seabeas and other small watercraft “so they don’t spoil the water or endanger fish and dolphins.”
Malibu’s newest marine mammal protection statement was initiated by Dr. Rosenthal when “community members approached [her] about whether the City would … show … support for the whales and dolphins,” as she tells OGP.
“We are lucky enough to enjoy almost a daily show from the dolphins and the whales come very close to the Malibu shore during their migrations. They are very special to us all,” Dr. Rosenthal says. “I personally felt that we needed to support the idea that these creatures should be free and healthy and able to live their lives amongst their families.”
Malibu’s proclamation is actually the first “officially recognized governmental statement within the United States indicating that dolphins, or any nonhuman animal for that matter, should be given the right to its own life and freedom,” according to the International Marine Mammal Project.
In addition to acknowledging whales and dolphins as “highly intelligent and emotional creatures” who deserve this basic right, the proclamation states the city’s support for “the free and safe passage of all whales and dolphins in [the city’s] coastal waters and encourages citizens of the world to do all within the power to protect and preserve the oceans in which they were destined to spend their lives.”
Beautifully said, Malibu, and well done!
Malibu is certainly setting a precedent here in the U.S. with its proclamation and hopefully this move will be held up as an example for other communities to follow in the days, months and years to come since, truly, it’s about time we all recognized the rights of non-human persons.
Image source: LA Waterkeeper / Flickr