Five minutes. That’s all it took for two California members of Congress—Reps. Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) and Adam Schiff (D-Burbank)—to introduce and pass an amendment to the Agriculture Appropriations Act that, if the act passes, would allocate $1 million for studying the effects of captivity on orcas, which would be the first step in updating and revising captive marine mammal–protection laws, which haven’t changed in nearly 20 years.
In his address to a House committee, Schiff said, “I have serious concerns about the psychological and physical harm to orcas and other large marine mammals in captivity. Isolating these animals—which can travel hundreds of miles in a day in the wild and which live in large, complex social groupings—in a small enclosure is troubling.”
The move came after Schiff and Huffman sent a letter signed by themselves and 38 other members of Congress to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) urging it to improve regulations protecting orcas but received no response.
Said Huffman, “Like many people, I did a lot of reflecting after I saw the documentary Blackfish. … I was disappointed to find that our government has done virtually nothing to update these regulations in the last two decades. … This amendment reminds [the USDA] that inaction is unacceptable.”
The amendment to the pending bill passed unanimously, and hopefully, thanks to the bold action of these two members of Congress, orcas are now on their way to receiving the protection that they have been denied for so long.
What You Can Do
Write to your U.S. senators and ask them to support orca-protection legislation in the Senate.