Dolphinarium Company Determined To Conduct Project
Europe Point Marine Village Limited (EPMVL)is defending its controversial proposal for a dolphinarium and has accused our sister charity and our our charity's chairman Dr Eric Shaw of being "irresponsible" regarding their opposition to the plan, the Gibraltar Chronicle wrote today.
"In claims it was not able to substantiate to this newspaper the company claimed the local campaign against the dolphinarium is "to protect local private commercial interests and this campaign is not in the interest of Gibraltar"," the Chronicle wrote, adding that EPMVL claims our sister charity intends to "spin fear" especially to children.
The company also has rejected criticism regarding the welfare of the animals due to its experience as "Marine Mammal Facility designers and operators". A spokesman was quoted in the Chronicle saying that both EPMVL and its consultants have had "considerable experience in achieving projects in the leisure industry and facilities with live animals and are certain that in connection with tourism the project will attract new visitors to Gibraltar, which will substantially benefit the local economy".
EPMVL also highlighted on the provision of hundreds of employment opportunities for "as many locals as possible" - except for animal care related expert staff.
Details of the Proposal
According to the EPMVL in the Chronicle the project of some 18m would take twelve months construction works. The newspaper wrote that "in a bid to highlight what they feel are the advantages of the project the company issued a statement which emphasised" on Sea Angling and leisure facilities to the seaward side of a reconstructed mole, a scenic seating gallery and a Nelson Museum with a virtual reality battle programme.
"The Bay itself will remain fully tidal and the mouth section only will have suspended netting below floats to protect the Dolphins and Sea Lions. The live animals will have the safety and benefit of the entire Bay area, which extends to approximately 10,000 square metres of water surface," EMPVL was quoted in the Chronicle, "adding that located outside of the floats and netting will be a floating boom to protect the Bay from potential pollution."
So far the application has yet to be accepted by Government for planning commission. Government has recently confirmed in Parliament that it opposes to the idea of using formerly wild animals for that purpose, but is not against the idea of a dolphinairum per se.
PDP meanwhile has said, it is the only party which fully condemns the dolphinarium proposal and promises a complete regeneration of the declared area of special interest, Rosia Bay - the proposed location of the dolphinarium.
The plans of building a dolphinarium has lead to widespread protest among both local animal welfare groups and private citizens - more than 4,000 people have expressed their dismay on the facebook group "Stop the Proposed Dolphinarium".
There are manyfolded concerns regarding the project which outweigh possible arguments in favour of a dolphinarium: Most dolphins and sea lions for marine facilities are captured from Asian waters - and even if not, they are often the captured animals offspring. With a rising demand for dolphins there will be a rising risk that animals purchased from captivity will be replaced by captured wild animals elsewhere ( The Cove , Winner of the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, examines this business of international dolphin capture trade).
Furthermore, half of these very intelligent mammals die within the first two years of captivity; survivors last an average of five years; whereas the average life span of a dolphin in the wild is 45 years.
Anyone who wishes to import - and even breed - dolphins also would have to apply to the EU, as there a laws against respective abuse, so the proposal might provoke critical international responses.
The Strait of Gibraltar is home to Bottlenose dolphins, Common dolphins and Striped dolphins, already. They can not only be watched in the wild, but a dolphinarium might also disturb them in their natural habitat. The Bay area in question is part of their territory. And even if there would be a netting to seperate captured and wild dolphins, the dolphins on both sides of the net would be able to communicate. It is unclear how much damage this would do to animals on either side.
The location itself is a declared area of special interest and inhabited by animals and plants protected under EU Law and Gibraltar's Nature Protection Ordinance. Using this area solely for leisure and commercial purposes could significantly damage the fragile biodiversity. The net covering 10.000 square meters would not solely prevent pollution as stated by EMPVL, but have a dramatic impact on migrating animals and the reproduction of the area. It would also cause confusion for other marine species on either side of the "fence" and maybe have an overall impact on the strait's sea life. Furthermore the net might pose a danger to animals unaware of the net, as they might get entangled in the net or suffer injuries.
The project of course would also have an impact on humans and Gibraltar's infrastructure: Some of the last remaining beaches would be turned into a tourist attraction. A lot of traffic could be expected to be channelled through residential areas and past local schools.