oak bay marina
(Oak Bay Marine Group)

The feeding of marine mammals, including seals and sea lions, is now prohibited at Oak Bay Marina, following a series of amendments to Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s (DFO) marine mammal regulations that took effect this month.

Oak Bay Marine Group, which owns the marina as well as several other waterfront properties, announced the new rules on July 13.

“Oak Bay Marine Group is fully supportive of recent amendments to DFO’s Marine Mammal
Regulations that now prohibit the feeding of marine mammals,” the company said in a release.

Under new amendments to section seven of the marine mammal regulations, people cannot disturb animals unless it’s authorized, whether it’s for fishing, scientific research, or other work permitted by the Fisheries Act.

“Disturb” is defined as any sort of contact with an animal, including feeding, trapping, tagging, marking, moving, and so on.

“While feeding marine mammals has long been a pastime of locals and tourists from around the world, the Oak Bay Marina—where so many visitors and residents come to see the seals—is no longer allowing guests to feed them,” Oak Bay Marine Group chief operating officer Brook Castelsky said.

Castelsky added that while he recognizes some guests might be disappointed, he encourages everyone to take time to understand why feeding can no longer continue.

Fisherman’s Wharf banned seal feeding last year

In April 2017, Fisherman’s Wharf banned the longtime tradition of feeding the seals that frequented the dock.

“We know that the practice of hand-feeding marine wildlife from our docks is dangerous and unsustainable,” said Al-Nashir Charania, environmental projects coordinator at the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority.

While the decision was met with some pushback from residents and tourists, the wharf has continued to be a popular spot for visitors.