The movement to end cetacean captivity is gaining momentum in one of Canada's largest cities.

Just days after two commissioners on the Vancouver Parks Board publicly called for an end to keeping whales and dolphins in captivity, the highest elected official in the city has thrown his support behind the idea as well -- becoming perhaps the most senior politician in North America to do so.

In a statement released yesterday, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson says that the Vancouver Aquarium -- one of the city’s major attractions -- should stop holding cetaceans captive.

“The Vancouver Aquarium is renowned worldwide for its work on conservation and state-of-the-art ocean research, and its team plays a crucial role in educating the public about the importance of protecting our vibrant local waters and marine environment. It is a huge draw for local residents and tourists alike, and one of the highlights of Stanley Park,” writes Robertson.

“My personal view is that the Vancouver Aquarium should begin to phase out the holding of whales and dolphins in captivity. I’m hopeful that the Aquarium and the Park Board can work collaboratively and come to an agreement on how to achieve this with a dialogue and review that will be informed, thoughtful and inclusive.”

A petition with more than 10,000 Robertson calling for the phasing out of cetacean in captivity at the Aquarium is being weighed by the Parks Board. A referendum banning the practice could be decided on by the end of the year.