Update: SeaWorld sues [read on]
On 8 October 2015 SeaWorld bused hundreds of hourly employees & family to the Long Beach Convention Center to create an illusion; to conflate the fact that only 21% of Americans support orca captivity with the fantasy that captivity has strong & widespread public support. It doesn't, and more & more people are figuring out what it truly means to be "pro-cap."
|Dr Ingrid Visser with Actress-Model Pamela Anderson. Both spoke at the hearings. Photo by Kim Ventre|
Long Beach was the site of the California Coastal Commission's (CCC) hearing on SeaWorld's proposed Blue World project (BWP). An expansion that is (or was) intended to boost SeaWorld's captive orca population through natural & artificial insemination methods. The hearing was an historic one in terms of attendance & public engagement.
SeaWorld's self-titled "mob buses" brought in plenty of support, but employees may have been on the clock because those workers evaporated like California's water supply.
|#EmptyThe.... Chairs! -- Did SeaWorld want to avoid overtime to workers on the clock?|
Maybe SW was being frugal and didn't want to pay its people overtime [we were told they were on the clock] because when the buses departed back to SW headquarters the "mob" was gone. And despite Commissioner Cox's efforts to cement SeaWorld's legacy at San Diego, the few SeaWorld employees remaining didn't like what they heard.
|2 bad days @ work. You'd think a risky job, like pro football player, would come with union protection. Not @SeaWorld|
In a unanimous vote the CCC granted SeaWorld the right to build Blue World, but with a major condition: No more orca breeding
By a 12-0 vote, the California Coastal Commission blessed the Blue World Project. The decision came at an overflow meeting in the Long Beach Convention Center that saw dozens of passionate speeches, including one by animal-rights activist Pamela Anderson.
But Commissioner Dayna Bochco of San Francisco... proposed an amendment to prohibit any breeding of orcas, their artificial insemination or their trade or transfer among other parks. Another condition is a cap of 15 whales at the San Diego attraction, which now houses 11.
Bochco’s amendment to Condition 1 passed 11-1, with only Greg Cox — a San Diego County supervisor — dissenting.
The "no breeding" condition didn't sit well with SeaWorld's leadership. The statement, below, by CEO Joel Manby is ironic considering SeaWorld has traditionally argued that it's animals have no rights. Are Manby's days numbered?
Treating the whales as property allows for SW to imprison them without considering how the whales feel about that. It also allows the corporation to ship them overseas to places like Loro Parque. There's more...
|Ironic that the "warden" is claiming that captive orcas have rights|
Blue World is Also a Political Maneuver to Sink AB-2140
On the surface, San Diego makes the least sense for BWP. SeaWorld doesn't own the land; the city does. Construction costs are higher in California v Texas or Orlando. Wouldn't a company with huge debt, like SeaWorld, seek the best deal on such an expensive project?
The corporate HQ's & highest attended park is Orlando, not San Diego. SW in FL and SW in TX don't need to ask commissioners for approval. The politics, on the surface, favor Orlando & San Antonio as cheaper & easier sites for a 50 ft deep concrete orca tank. So why spend millions to lobby approval for and to construct BWP at Mission Bay, the most expensive site?
Because BWP is about political clout, crushing upcoming legislation, and thus cementing SeaWorld's grasp on captivity inside the USA. California is the world's 8th largest economy, behind #7, Brazil.
Had BWP moved forward, un-amended, San Diego was expected to become the "West Coast puppy mill for killer whales." This would be complimented nicely by SeaWorld's proposed "Worlds largest fish farm" just a few miles from the San Diego park. Granted, the farm is touted to "grow" yellow-fin tuna, but SeaWorld famously does not recognize dietary or cultural differences between ecotypes, and killer whales are known to eat tuna. Look here. Or here.
|Site of SeaWorld's proposed fish farm, the world's largest; Just a few miles off the San Diego Coast.|
Additionally, SeaWorld has [already] announced expansion plans to shareholders & wants to increase its killer whale assets for shipments abroad, including to China and Dubai. Thanks to Commissioner Bocho, the "puppy mill" idea has been thwarted, for now. But that's not the end of the story.
Connecting Blue World (BWP) with AB-2140
SeaWorld understood that if the Commission green-lighted BWP, politicians would be inclined to vote down Richard Bloom's upcoming Blackfish Bill AB-2140, aka The Orca Welfare & Safety Act. That bill is sponsored by three former SeaWorld killer whale trainers, Carol Ray, John Hargrove and Samantha Berg, and was tabled last year using political maneuvering. SeaWorld was fond of portraying AB-2140 as "dead." Listen to Carol discuss Bloom's proposed legislation, here.
Because BWP is a multi-year, one-hundred million dollar project, it would impact dozens or hundreds of potential jobs & businesses around California, and the politicians that represent them. BWP would require construction crews, crane operators, engineers, water quality experts, environmental scientists, architects, employment contracts, and more. It is strongly supported by the San Diego business community & politicians on both sides of the aisle.
This is because politicians put jobs & economic growth ahead of orca welfare. And SeaWorld knows this. But...
Not So Fast
Now, with a unanimous vote by a state agency which is on the record and opposed to captive orca breeding, Richard Bloom's AB-2140 has new life and legs. Like the recent lunar eclipse, AB-2140 has moved into alignment with the BWP, both would make it illegal for SeaWorld to breed captive killer whales in California.
And this was immediately apparent to Assemblymember Richard Bloom who went onto social media to express that he's moving forward, now.
Regarding the BWP in California, its future is uncertain. Some predict that SeaWorld will file a lawsuit vs the CCC. Others predict it will abandon the idea.
Behind closed doors, here is the conversation, from SeaWorld's perspective:
1) The CCC did not have legal authority to make the decision that it did! We need to sue them -- confirmed. SW will sue.
2) Do we want 2-3 more years of mostly negative press associated with litigation?
3) Is our tank expansion worth taking to a friendlier site, such as Orlando?
4) Is now the time to accelerate our plans for expansion into China or Dubai where laws make it easier for us to do our business?
SeaWorld's attorney, David Watson, angrily told the panel “the state of California does not have jurisdiction to regulate the management & care of marine mammal collections”
The Last World by Commissioner Bocho