Saturday, October 14, 2006

Dolphins activists will voice their concerns against dolphins in captivity

Both sides of the dolphin debate will have close to 1,000 key tourism stakeholders in their audience at the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) Annual Conference and Trade Show in Grand Cayman.

While the pro-dolphin establishments remain tight-lipped about their participation in the 31 October to 3 November conference, the anti-dolphin campaigners said they will raise their voices.
Government has given permission to owners of two dolphinariums to establish their businesses in West Bay.

Minister of Tourism, Hon Charles Clifford, said that he believes the captive dolphin attractions will be safe and will be monitored by Government agencies.

The Keep Dolphin Free in the Cayman Islands group said this week that it had joined forces with international organisations to "take captive dolphin issue to the cruise industry".

Organisations teaming up with the groups are the Cayman Islands Humane Society, the Jamaica Environment Trust, the Humane Society of the United States/Humane Society International, and the Antigua and Barbuda Independent Tourism Promotion Council.

The local group's spokesperson, Billy Adam, said that a booth would be set up at the trade show to educate cruise tourism leaders about the negative effect that dolphinariums have on the environment.

"The objective of our booth is to provide environmental education, information and awareness of the facts surrounding the captive dolphin tourist entertainment industry, including Swim With The Dolphin programmes," he said.

The booth is supported and assisted by other international organisations including Captive Dolphin Awareness Foundation, the Dolphin Project, Global Coral Reef Alliance, LMitchell Enterprises, Marine Connection, One Voice, PHXX, Rogest, Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, and the World Society for the Protection of Animals.

Other local and foreign organisations that share the group's position on keeping the dolphins free for a multitude of reasons will join the activists in the trade show.

Mr Adam said that while the focus of his organisation would be on the Cayman Islands, that matter has implications for the cruise tourism sector worldwide.

"While our local group is dedicated to keeping dolphins free in the Cayman Islands, the implications of the industry are of great importance to the wider Caribbean and, in fact, the international community," he said.

Mr Adam explained that the cruise sector in the region has been a major source of customers for the dolphinariums.

"The cruise lines operating in the Caribbean provide the captive dolphin attractions in this area with about 80 percent of their customers," he said.

The environmentalists welcomed the largest conference in the Cayman Islands' history, saying that it offers a wonderful opportunity to widen their stand against captive dolphins.

"While our local group is dedicated to keeping dolphins free in the Cayman Islands, the implications of the industry are of great importance to the wider Caribbean and, in fact, the international community," he said.

The conference and trade show will attractive representatives from the Caribbean, the USA, Europe and other regions of the world, displaying products and services available to cruise visitors.

Delegates will get media kits, scientific reports, books, DVD videos and a new release of an original print "Break the Chains - Keep Dolphins Free" by renowned marine artist Ron Steven, and other supporting materials to study so that informed decisions can be made on the issue, the spokesman said.

In 2005, the Regent Seven Seas Cruises (formerly Radisson) studied the captive dolphin industry then decided to stop dolphin encounter excursions at its ports of call, the Keep Dolphin Free body said.

Visitors to the booth will get a chance to speak with scientists and conservationists from across the region including Antigua and Barbuda, Jamaica, the United States and the Cayman Islands, Mr Adam said.

The Keep Dolphin Free in the Cayman Islands said it would be offering information on sustainable tourism and good environmental practices in the Caribbean at its 'number six' booth at the trade show.

"We welcome all delegates and visitors from fellow Caribbean destinations to stop by the booth for an exchange of information on sustainable tourism in the Caribbean, including the benefits of being environmentally responsible, educated, and innovative partners in the care of both natural resources - our primary tourism "product" - and marine mammals," said Mr Adam.

The Keep Dolphin Free group in the Cayman Islands will host a press conference on 31 October at 6:30 pm at the Kirk B meeting room at the Ritz-Carlton on the Seven Mile Beach.

Interested parties, including the Government and the Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO), are invited to the press conference, according to the group.

Quick "Facts about Dolphins"