BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



          SENATE COMMITTEE ON NATURAL RESOURCES AND WATER
                             Senator Fran Pavley, Chair
                                2015 - 2016  Regular 

          Bill No:            AB 1453         Hearing Date:  August 11,  
          2016   
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          |Author:    |Bloom                  |           |                 |
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          |Version:   |August 10, 2016                                      |
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          |Urgency:   |Yes                    |Fiscal:    |Yes              |
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          |Consultant:|William Craven                                       |
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                 Subject:  Protection of orcas: unlawful activities.


          BACKGROUND AND EXISTING LAW
             1)   Prohibits the take of any whale species without specific  
               authorization. Allows permits to be issued for take of a  
               whale from the wild for a limited number of purposes,  
               including for scientific research, for purpose of public  
               display, or for enhancing the survival or recovery of  
               specific stocks. Authorization can also be given for  
               incidental take of marine mammals in the course of  
               conducting certain activities. The National Marine  
               Fisheries Service (NMFS) is responsible for enforcement of  
               the MMPA. Requirements for permits for public display  
               include that the entity offers a program for education or  
               conservation based on professionally recognized standards  
               of the public display community, is registered or holds a  
               license under the Animal Welfare Act, and maintains  
               facilities open to the public on a regularly scheduled  
               basis.

             2)   Governs captive care, handling, treatment and  
               transportation of marine mammals held for public display,  
               and maintenance of marine mammal exhibits, under the  
               federal Animal Welfare Act. The Department of Agriculture,  
               Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is responsible  
               for enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act. Standards for  
               maintenance and structure of orca pools include: minimum  
               horizontal dimension, volume and depth requirements; a plan  







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               of care approved by a veterinarian; and that animals be  
               housed with at least one compatible animal of the same or  
               biologically related species. Examples of pool dimensions  
               include that a pool holding two orcas must have a minimum  
               diameter of 48 feet, a depth of 12 feet, and a minimum  
               volume of 615 meters.

          PROPOSED LAW
          This urgency bill prohibits captive breeding of orcas in  
          California, and would allow the orcas that are currently being  
          held in captivity after June 1, 2017, to be used only for  
          educational presentations. This bill: 

             1)   Makes it unlawful for any person to do any of the  
               following:
               a)     To hold an orca in captivity, whether wild-caught or  
                 captive-bred, for purposes of display, performance or  
                 entertainment. 

               b)     To breed or impregnate any orca in captivity in the  
                 state. 

               c)     To export, collect or import the semen, gametes, or  
                 embryos of an orca held in captivity for the purpose of  
                 artificial insemination.
                  
               d) To export, transport, move or sell an orca located in  
               the state to another state or country unless authorized by  
               federal law.

          2) Permits the transfer of an orca to another facility in North  
          America that meets standards comparable to those in the Animal  
          Welfare Act. 

          3) Makes any person who intentionally or negligently violates  
          any of the above prohibitions guilty of a misdemeanor,  
          punishable by a fine not to exceed $100,000. 

          4) Provides that this section does not apply to an orca that is  
          held for rehabilitation after a rescue or stranding, or for  
          research purposes and requires an orca that is held for  
          rehabilitation or research to be returned to the wild whenever  
          possible, and if return to the wild is not possible, prohibits  
          such an orca from being used for breeding, performance or  








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          entertainment purposes.

          5) Defines "educational presentation" for purposes of this bill  
          to mean live, scheduled orca display in the presence of  
          spectators that includes natural behaviors, enrichment and  
          exercise activities and provides live narration and video  
          content providing science-based education to the public about  
          orcas. 

          6) Includes a severability clause, providing that if any of the  
          provisions in the bill are invalidated, that the other  
          provisions can be given effect. 

          ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT
          The author indicates that while he wholeheartedly endorses  
          SeaWorld's announcement to end captive breeding, company  
          leadership can change and with it, so can company directions.  
          The author asserts that the people of California and the animal  
          welfare advocates who have been at the forefront in calling for  
          this change need and deserve the assurance that codifying the  
          end of captive breeding of orcas in California will bring. 

          According to the animal welfare and environmental coalition  
          letter in support, there are 11 orcas currently in San Diego  
          representing the last generation of captive orcas that would be  
          displayed in the state. 

          Many supporters describe orcas as a very socially and  
          ecologically complex species that are dependent on very close  
          social bonding in their natural environment. 

          ARGUMENTS IN OPPOSITION
          None received

          COMMENTS
          The Department of Fish and Wildlife, has requested clarifying  
          language which is set forth in the two recommended amendments  
          which would create a new Section 4502 (c) and a new 4502 (d)  
          (3). 
               












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          SUPPORT
          Animal Legal Defense Fund 
          Animal Welfare Society 
          Azul 
          Born Free USA 
          California League of Conservation Voters 
          Cetacean Society 
          International Defenders of Wildlife 
          Environment California 
          Humane Society of the United States 
          In Defense of Animals 
          Marin Humane Society 
          North County Watch 
          Performing Animal Welfare Society 
          San Francisco SPCA 
          Sierra Club California 
          Whale and Dolphin Conservation 
          Wildlands Conservancy 
          World Animal Protection 
          Several individuals

          OPPOSITION
          None Received

          
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