ORCA Act Reintroduced

Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) reintroduced the Orca Responsibility and Care Advancement (ORCA) Act (HR 1584), in March 2017. The original bill—introduced in November 2015—was quite simple: It would have amended the Marine Mammal Protection Act to prohibit the import and export of orcas for public display and the Animal Welfare Act to prohibit breeding of orcas. This would have effectively ended the captive holding of this species over time, as the existing population of captive orcas would eventually die out and not be replaced.

The new bill is substantially the same, with one important addition: The export of orcas would be allowed if the orca is being sent to a seaside sanctuary. In the time since the original bill was written, several seaside sanctuary projects, including the Whale Sanctuary Project (www.whalesanctuaryproject.org), have been initiated. No sanctuaries for captive cetaceans yet exist, but they will in the near future. HR 1584 would allow orcas in the United States to be retired to such a sanctuary, wherever one is established.