ONLINE PETITION: HELP KEEP ANTIGUA & BARBUDA FREE OF CAPTIVE DOLPHINSWednesday 9th October 2013
The Antigua Barbuda Independent Tourism Promotion Corp (ABITPC) launched an online petition on October 10th to the Government of Antigua and Barbuda calling for a law to passed to ban captivity of marine mammals in Antigua and Barbuda in the future.
This move would make the twin island state "dolphin friendly" and would be welcomed by thousands around the world who view the marine mammals with great sentiment. ABITPC spokesperson Martha Watkins Gilkes commented, " Antigua is such a beautiful "natural" island with our nesting turtles, frigate birds, rare racer snake, a hugh variety of bird life on the off shore islands. It is only right that we do not portray the image of captivity for marine mammals and I am sure it will give us a huge positive image in the international community and much good publicity." Gilkes continued by stating that she had discussions with the Minister of Tourism, The Honorable John Maginley, who confirmed that he would support this effort but commented that the necessary legislation would need to be put in place.
The call was made for this big step after an article appeared in the Daily Observer on Monday October 7th, with an interview with Mr. Bowden from Dolphin Cove in Jamaica. In that article he indicated the group was interested in coming to Antigua to establish a swim with the dolphin program. A similar project was forced closed in 2004 as a result of many environmental problems the project caused. http://www.enn.com/top_stories/article/407
ABITPC is opposed to a dolphin project for specific reasons. Gilkes commented, " We fear an horrendous repeat of what happened last time. We believe dolphins prisons are a bad idea for Antigua and could lead to total environmental and economic disaster for Antigua and Barbuda”
It is a known fact that there is much environmental damage to surrounding coral reefs where dolphin pens are located. The nutrients in dolphin waste in a concentrated area causes a blue green algae over bloom which covers and kills the live coral. Gilkes commented "Without live coral around our island there are big problems; you lose the fish population then you lose the barrier protection protecting the coast line.... it is a very serious situation."
Gilkes explained that an average dolphin weights 450 lb dolphin and eats 25 pounds of fish a day and the waste from one dolphin is equal to 4 to 6 people; if there are 12 dolphins in a pen ( as was the case in Antigua the last time) that is like waste from 72 people; If there is any current since the sea is a moving thing, all that goes in one direction down current and ends up where there are coral reefs. To see this in "living color please check here
Other reasons for ABITPC opposition include the negative economic effect on small local marine related businesses and the negative press internationally to eco minded people. There is also the issues of cruelty to the dolphins being imprisioned.
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