(NaturalNews) February 24, 2014 was an historic day in the movement to gain basic rights for dolphins and whales. A proclamation requesting protection for cetaceans and including a bold statement that dolphins should have the right to their own lives was presented to the Malibu City Council and was signed by Mayor Joan House.
The proclamation, initiated by councilmember Dr. Laura Rosenthal, supports the free and safe passage of all whales and dolphins in the city's coastal waters and "encourages citizens of the world to do all within their power to protect them and preserve the oceans".
Says Dr. Rosenthal about her progressive initiative: "The purpose of this proclamation is not only to support the ideas therein, but to get people thinking about the issues in a deeper and more meaningful way and thus change behavior."
The proclamation included a statement about cetacean rights. "Whereas, whales and dolphins are known to be highly intelligent and emotional creatures... and therefore deserve the right to their own freedom and lives".
This is the first officially recognized governmental statement within the United States indicating that dolphins, or any nonhuman animal for that matter, should be given the right to it's own life and freedom.
"We wanted this statement included in the proclamation because it draws attention to the fact that dolphins currently do NOT have the right to their own lives," says Laura Bridgeman of the International Marine Mammal Project. "I think most people can agree that dolphins deserve this right, but many remain unaware that dolphins are considered legal property. This needs to change."
The federal Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) prohibits killing and capture of dolphins and whales, but has numerous loopholes, allowing, for example, accidental entanglement of dolphins in fishing gear and capture of dolphins for aquariums.
Steven Wise, President of the Nonhuman Rights Project, applauded Rosenthal's effort. "This Proclamation is the latest laudable addition to a growing worldwide catalogue of governments and their subdivisions that are recognizing the extraordinary cognitive abilities of cetaceans that scientists have carefully documented and demanding their fundamental rights to bodily liberty."
The proclamation is among other international efforts to gain basic rights for dolphins. In 2013, India banned dolphin captivity and declared that dolphins should be considered nonhuman persons, and just last month Romanian MP Remus Cernea drafted a law to designate nonhuman personhood status for dolphins in that country.
It is hoped that other city councils will create similar proclamations.