Bill of Rights for Dolphins, Porpoises, and Whales ProposedPosted by Stephanie Ulmer, Guest Blogger on March 23, 2012
Because dolphins, porpoises, and whales are so intelligent and should be regarded as "non-human persons," a group of scientists, ethicists, and animal welfare groups has proposed a bill of rights for them, advocating for greater protection under the law. The Daily Mail recently reported a “small group of experts in philosophy, conservation and dolphin behavior were canvassing support for a Declaration of Rights for Cetaceans” during a meeting of scientists in Canada. Citing that dolphins, porpoises, and their whale cousins are sufficiently intelligent and self-aware to the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s annual conference held in Vancouver, the coalition argued that the animals are justifiably entitled to the same ethical considerations given to humans, and the rights to life and liberty.
It is the hope that in recognizing cetaceans’ rights, it would mean an end to whaling and the captivity of dolphins, porpoises, and whales, or their use in entertainment. This means that there would be no more dolphins in zoos or water parks, or whale shows at theme parks. Among some of the other requests under the Bill, whales would be protected by declaring whalers murderers, whale watching trips would be governed by regulations that would require the watchers to respect the privacy of the whales, and oil companies would also be legally bound to consider the impact of their activities on the sea animals belonging to the order cetacea.
At the very least this movement will bring some much-needed attention to the plight of these animals. Each of their populations is on the decline and much needs to be done to protect them for future generations.