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H.R. 8514

SWIMS Act–Strengthening Welfare in Marine Settings Act of 2022

United States

On July 26, 2022, Representative Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Representative Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), Representative Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.), and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) introduced the Strengthening Welfare in Marine Settings (SWIMS) Act (H.B. 8514/S. 4740), which would end the future capture and breeding of whales for public display. The SWIMS Act is the first federal legislation the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) has helped develop as it begins to work with members of Congress.

The SWIMS Act would amend the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 to prohibit the taking, importation, or exportation of orcas, beluga whales, pilot whales, and false killer whales for the purpose of public display unless the animal is being transported to a sanctuary setting or released to the wild. The bill further amends the Animal Welfare Act to prohibit any breeding of these species for future public display.

The bill references scientific evidence of the cognitive, emotional, and social complexity of whales and recognizes the importance of prioritizing the autonomy of whales as individuals, which the NhRP applauds. Similar language underlies the NhRP’s legal arguments. The bill also underscores how whales suffer when held in captivity in tanks that cannot meet their complex physical, emotional, and social needs.

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