Whale-sex ban spurs mockery of Coastal Commission

SeaWorldThe release of a 2013 documentary, “Blackfish,” that accused SeaWorld theme parks of treating their captive killer whales cruelly put a big dent in the company’s revenue in 2014. Thanks to CNN’s repeated airings of the documentary, anti-SeaWorld sentiment gets a fresh boost on a regular basis from new viewers.

But 2015 has shown improved attendance over 2014’s lows. Now the San Diego SeaWorld venue is benefiting from sympathy over the incredulous reaction from some local residents to the California Coastal Commission’s Oct. 9 decision to condition accepting an expansion of a swimming tank on SeaWorld officials preventing killer whales, known as orcas, from breeding. Here’s a sampling from online comments and letters to the editor:

When did the California Coastal Commission become the Planned Parenthood of aquariums and marine parks? What’s next, requiring SeaWorld to teach abstinence to dolphins?


Big brother is once again misusing law to get their way politically. The Coastal Commission may not be “precluded” from applying this law to captive animals, but it is certainly wrong.


Let me get this straight – the Coastal Commission can regulate who and what breeds in its jurisdiction if it grants you permission to remodel?

Activists say SeaWorld controls all breeding

Many online commenters responded that San Diego SeaWorld already controls the breeding of its orcas and that its actions would have no effect on normal orca procreation at the venue because there is none. But commission officials, aware of the mocking their decision was taking, responded more formally as well. In an op-ed in Friday’s Union-Tribune, commission Vice President Dayna Bochco, a lawyer, defended the decision:

While passions ran high in the hearing room, the commission’s 11 to 1 vote to add these conditions to the project was substantively grounded in Coastal Act policies that protect marine resources and species of special biological significance – which surely describes orcas. These policies are routinely applied to marine mammals in the wild, but the law does not preclude their application to captive marine mammals.


This was not a power grab. The commission is not pre-empted by any federal law, and no other state agency is addressing issues related to captive whales. We were faced with making our decision in a regulatory vacuum.


The commission has always been forward-thinking in its protection of the environment, and the Coastal Act is a broad law. Over the decades it has been interpreted in ways that were controversial at the time but have since become important foundations for coastal protection.

In what appeared to be a coordinated campaign, soon after the op-ed was posted online, dozens of animal-rights supporters from around the nation posted praise for Bochco, the wife of centimillionaire Hollywood producer Steven Bochco, and the Coastal Commission. But there was still incredulity:

Is the CC now going to regulate how I treat my dog and pet hamster if I live in the coastal zone?

On Thursday, SeaWorld announced it would appeal the decision.


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  1. Richard Rider
    Richard Rider 18 October, 2015, 07:43

    Let’s hope the Coastal Commission uses this precedent to deal with a far more vexing problem plaguing our coast — barking dogs. Assuming we can’t require them all to be released into the wild (“Free Fido!”), surely we can require both the de-voicing and neutering of these caterwauling canines.

    And cats too, come to think of it. And gerbils!

    Reply this comment
  2. Spurwing Plover
    Spurwing Plover 18 October, 2015, 12:58

    It realy wasnt that to long ago when those idiots fro PETA sued Swa World using the 13th Amendment to demand they set their orcas free(too many of those stupid(Free Willey movies)their suit was dismissed and now this poppycock what else can we ever expect from a bunch of wackos smoking wacky weed from their hookas

    Reply this comment
  3. Anna
    Anna 18 October, 2015, 18:44

    I can find much wrong with government, protecting whales is not one of them. To serve and protect is the true role of government imho.

    Reply this comment
    • JimmyDeeOC
      JimmyDeeOC 19 October, 2015, 09:08

      Protecting whales…..IN THE WILD……..perhaps. But most importantly, the CCC is definitely NOT the agency that should promulgate such protections. This is perhaps the most asinine decision ever from the CCC…….and there have been some doozies.

      Reply this comment
  4. desmond
    desmond 19 October, 2015, 19:43

    Can a human bystander hump the whale if it is consensual? Forced entry is sick and perverted.

    Reply this comment
  5. Bill Gore
    Bill Gore 19 October, 2015, 21:24

    So the uber control-freak California Coastal Commission can now regulate the number of gnats on kelp that washes up on the beach. Yet has anyone noticed how thoroughly squalid and completely trashed the California coast actually is? Overbuilt, sickeningly polluted from IB to Point Loma (where the City of San Diego STILL dumps untreated wastewater with the hypocritical blessings of all the 2-faced NIMBY lawyer-loving ‘activists’) all the way up to LA, HalfMoon Bay and NorCal. Once a gem, now a sewer ruled by an army of bureaucrats…..

    Reply this comment
  6. Spurwing Plover
    Spurwing Plover 19 October, 2015, 23:25

    Buracracy runs wild the inmates are running the assilum

    Reply this comment

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Chris Reed

Chris Reed

Chris Reed is a regular contributor to Cal Watchdog. Reed is an editorial writer for U-T San Diego. Before joining the U-T in July 2005, he was the opinion-page columns editor and wrote the featured weekly Unspin column for The Orange County Register. Reed was on the national board of the Association of Opinion Page Editors from 2003-2005. From 2000 to 2005, Reed made more than 100 appearances as a featured news analyst on Los Angeles-area National Public Radio affiliate KPCC-FM. From 1990 to 1998, Reed was an editor, metro columnist and film critic at the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin in Ontario. Reed has a political science degree from the University of Hawaii (Hilo campus), where he edited the student newspaper, the Vulcan News, his senior year. He is on Twitter: @chrisreed99.

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