Monday, September 2, 2013

Dolphin Defense

Here in the Turks and Caicos Islands we have a long history of protecting dolphins and this community wants it to stay that way.  Last November I wrote this Call for letters to Governor and Planning and sadly nearly a year later we are still trying to halt having dolphins in captivity in this country.  For this to happen we need your help.  A message from TC Reef's Don Stark
Please Help us Say “No to Captive Dolphins in the Turks and Caicos”

The Turks & Caicos Islands (TCI) have long been a safe haven for wild dolphins. Our laws forbade the holding of marine mammals in captivity. In fact, when the United Kingdom was closing its dolphinariums in the early 1990’s, three of the remaining captive dolphins were airlifted to the TCI for their rehabilitation and release into the wild in the waters of the TCI.

That all changed in October 2012 when the Governor unilaterally changed the laws of the TCI to allow the importation and keeping of captive dolphins, in order to allow Dolphin Cove Ltd, a company based in Jamaica, to open a “Swim with a Dolphin” business on the south side of Providenciales in the TCI.

On January 31, 2013 four Not-for-Profit organizations, The Provo Chamber of Commerce, Pride Ltd, the TCSPCA and the TC Reef Fund, united to pursue legal action by way of a Judicial Review against the Governor over his decision to amend the TCI Fisheries Protection Ordinance. His decision has caused a public outcry from residents, TCI businesses, tourists and international animal welfare groups around the world.

Letters of protest have been written to the Governor and the Planning Department, to news papers and blogs. Petitions have been signed, one international petition with over 13,000 signatures. Kudos goes to individuals and groups who have worked tirelessly to change the Governor’s mind but with no success. So, as it stands now, we have a regulation allowing an activity that:

• is abhorrent to anyone who knows or has spent time with these magnificent animals,

• threatens our market brand “Beautiful by Nature”, and

• places this country in jeopardy of losing many visitors and potential home owners who have already said that they would go elsewhere if captive dolphins were allowed in TCI.

Even if Dolphin Cove does not succeed in its bid, as long as this regulation is part of our laws there will be another company looking to do the same thing.

The Judge of the Supreme Court has agreed to hear our case. The Governor may have the power to change laws but he is still subject to our 2011 Constitution which states that any decision made by a law-maker must be 'legal, rational, proportionate and procedurally fair'. We believe he violated these principals. If the Judge agrees with us the amendment will be ‘quashed’ and our Ordinance will revert to its original purpose, that of protecting all marine mammals in Turks and Caicos waters.

Many dolphins have lost their lives and continue to do so to supply these captive dolphin businesses. We owe them their day in court. This will most likely be a lengthy and costly process which we will be unable to pursue without financial support from those of you who care. Our goal is to raise $60,000 to cover our estimated legal costs. Each charity has set up a fund specifically for this purpose. Your donation, no matter the size, will give dolphins a voice they would otherwise not have had in the Turks and Caicos Islands. We need your donation now!


Please visit Dolphin Defense Fund and make a donation, every single dollar counts! If you don't have a few dollars to spare, please sign the Petition to Stop the New Dolphinarium AND the Petition to Urge Carnival Cruise Lines to not offer tours with Captive Dolphins.  Putting pressure on Carnival Cruise Lines may well be the best way to halt the proposed Dolphinarium in Grand Turk.  Without the cruise ship clientele there is no possibility of such a business venture succeeding.

Image by Cecilia Holden via Dolphin Defense Funds facebook page

  Yesterday, Saturday September 1, my family along with other TCI residents marched in protest against dolphin slaughters and captive dolphins around the world.   I agree with the words of organizer Sara Alexandra Skye:
Big thanks to everyone who joined us yesterday on the beach walk in protest against brutal murders of dolphin families and capture of select ones for dolphinariums.

There were 110 places worldwide who joined in this protest. The main killing goes on in Taiji, Japan, where dolphins are driven to exhaustion, then pulled into boats, stabbed or have corks hammered into their breathing holes.

The anti - dolphin attraction movement worldwide is growing: already 70 such places of pain and torture have been either closed or never opened, due to international pressure.

Four petitions against such a thing have attracted 80,000 signatures. Our existing and returning tourists both in Provo and Grand Turk express horror and disgust at such a cruelty - in their words: "we come here for Beautiful by Nature" and we enjoy swimming with free dolphins and rays and turtles. If this happens, we shall not return"

SeaWorld in the US reported a LOSS in second quarter: after a lot of protests, picketing and petitions, and after the film BLACKFISH came out. This film exposed the cruel practices behind the cetacean captivity. Dolphins are highly intelligent creatures who live in families, call each other by name and recognize each other after long periods of time. They take care of their babies and protect each other. They have saved humans and other species after boat accidents. We can swim with JoJo and his family and friends FREE in the biggest open aquarium in the world!

Ric O'Barry, the man who started dolphinariums in the first place, is currently their biggest opponent. Let' s join up with him! Perhaps we could continue in the programme of releasing dolphins back into the wild after they were kept captive like we did with three beautiful creatures back in 1991.

Let us not support something that will give us a really bad name and bad publicity worldwide.

Let us, instead, concentrate on eco tourism: TCI is a perfect location and people around the world LOVE our pristine beaches and amazing coral reefs with abundant sealife.

Let us not allow dolphinariums, long line fishing, let us get clean, renewable energy from solar and wind resources. Let us put up moorings for our boats so we don't damage corals. Let us clean up our beaches and streets, let us create small businesses to support tourism. Let us make our airports beautiful.

Let us promote to new markets: we have already started with Brazil.
Brazil banned dolphin captivity in 1991 - they would be unimpressed to find out that we are supporting this.

Let us create street art. Let us recycle. Let us be GREEN. Let us be BEAUTIFUL BY NATURE!
Please visit the Dolphin Defense Funds facebook page to read more about why all dolphin slaughters and dolphinariums should be STOPPED. 

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