San Francisco to Save the Whales and Dolphins With Radical Legislation


San Francisco has passed landmark legislation that could help to save the whales and dolphins in the Bay Area.

“That the City and County of San Francisco supports the free and safe passage of all whales and dolphins in our coastal waters, including the Pacific Ocean, the San Francisco Bay, and its estuaries[…]Be it further resolved that every whale and dolphin has the right to be free of captivity, and to remain unrestricted in their natural environment.”

That’s the official word out of the city last week, when it passed the Cetacean Free and Safe Passage resolution, which was backed by Supervisor Scott Wiener and sponsored by the International Marine Mammal Project of Earth Island Institute. Hundreds of high school students also supported the measure to save the whales and dolphins by ensuring their inherent freedoms.

According to Laura Bridgeman, Campaign & Communication Specialist with the International Marine Mammal Project,The significance of stating that cetaceans have the right to be free and to not be held in captivity cannot be understated, as it reflects a growing understanding that we humans ought to begin including other species into our calculations of what is fair and morally right,” she wrote in the Ecologist. “At a time when nonhumans are still considered property, any statements indicating their right not be considered so is profound.”

Whale and dolphin rights have been highlighted in recent films including “Blackfish” and “The Cove.”

SeaWorld in particular has come under attack for its longstanding practice of keeping whales in captivity, and allegations that it routinely drugs its whales to keep them complacent.

“It might be hard to believe that granting cetaceans the right to their freedom will improve our human lives,” writes Bridgeman, but, she says, “by attempting to create a more just world for those who have arguably suffered just as much as any human, we indeed help ourselves.”

India already recognizes dolphins as nonhuman persons, and if any part of this country can influence us towards a new understanding on a rights issue, it’s certainly the Bay Area. Hopefully the trend continues around the U.S.’s coastal cities.

Whales and dolphins were not available for comment as they were out swimming freely in Bay Area waters.

Find Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

Related on EcoSalon

The Case for Animal Personhood: Will ‘Nonhuman’ Persons Make Us Better Humans?

Ditch the Zoos and Circuses: 7 Animal Friendly Summer Activities (Without the Chains)

Dolphins Have Names: Should We Reconsider Our Relationships with Animals?

Image: JamieW

Jill Ettinger

Jill Ettinger is a Los Angeles-based journalist and editor focused on the global food system and how it intersects with our cultural traditions, diet preferences, health, and politics. She is the senior editor for sister websites and, and works as a research associate and editor with the Cornucopia Institute, the organic industry watchdog group. Jill has been featured in The Huffington Post, MTV, Reality Sandwich, and Eat Drink Better.