SeaWorld Entertainment just announced that the company intends to pursue legal action against the California Coastal Commission for its overreaching condition that would ban killer whale breeding at SeaWorld San Diego. Animal welfare is governed by federal and state laws that do not fall within the jurisdiction of the California Coastal Commission’s appointed board. The vote by the Commission came during the course of its ultimate approval of the Blue World Project at SeaWorld San Diego. George Soneff, Jack S. Yeh and Michael Berger of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP have been retained to represent SeaWorld in this challenge.
“As a regulatory board charged with managing coastal development and related land-use decisions, the Coastal Commission went way beyond its jurisdiction and authority when it banned breeding by killer whales at SeaWorld. By imposing broad new jurisdiction over all future SeaWorld marine animal projects, as well as aquarium projects elsewhere in the state, the Commission has overstepped both federal and California law,” said Joel Manby, President and Chief Executive Officer. “It simply defies common sense that a straightforward land-use permit approval would turn into a ban on animal husbandry practices – an area in which the Commissioners have no education, training or expertise. To say that this is a dubious decision with no legal basis is an understatement, which is why we must and will challenge the Commission’s decision.”
SeaWorld is accredited by organizations including the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). According to the AZA, SeaWorld is “meeting or exceeding the highest standard of animal care and welfare of any zoological organization in the world.”