More And More Voices Against Dolphinarium In Gibraltar

Yesterday, our sister charity GONHS launched a facebook group against the proposed dolphinarium in Gibraltar. Meanwhile, the group has more than 600 members. Today, the Gibraltar Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) has picked up on the issue and interviewed Dr Eric Shaw, Chairman of the Helping Hand Trust and Marine Section Head of GONHS.

"In answer to a parlimentary question this year, Deputy Chief Minister Joe Holliday confirmed, that the Government had recently received a full proposal for the establishment of a dolphinarium and other related leisure activities in Rosia Bay," said GBC News Presenter Susan Clifton Tucker, adding, that the Planning Commission has not yet received a respective application.

The Plan: 18 Dolphins, Nine Sea Lions, 3,000 Seats

Due to the little public knowledge of the issue, Stephen Neish interviewed Dr. Shaw, who said that GONHS was was approached by agents of Ocean Embassy last Friday: In a cross-continental meeting, the agents explained about their plans. According to their documents, said Dr Shaw, the dolphinarium would have a seating capacity of 3,000 people and feature 18 Bottlenose dolphins and nine sea lions.

Ocean Embassy intends to import these animals from the Asian market, said Dr Shaw. He stressed, that due to Ocean Embassy's statements, GONHS got the impression that the dolphins and sea lions have yet to be captured from the wild.

The Obstacles

Dr Shaw explained, that keeping dolphins in captivity would be a contradiction to the Nature Protection Ordinance. Anyone, he said, who wishes to import - and even breed - dolphins also would have to apply to the EU, as there a laws against respective abuse. Additionally, the proposed location, Rosia Bay, is a declared area of special interest.

When asked about possible arguments in favour of dolphinariums, Dr Shaw said, that of course scientists and veterinarians benefit from previous research about dolphins in captivity. Yet, to GONHS and Dr Shaw Ocean Embassy "appeared to be a commercial entity, interested in commercial enterprise" and had not carried out any of the research which it easily could have done.

The Fascination

Dr Shaw also highlighted that he understands anyone who is intrigued by the idea of dolphinariums, and "goes away with fabulous feelings of having been there with these large mammals that come from the sea. What they don't seem to understand is, that the dolphin they got the great feeling from, lives in captivity until the day it dies. And it came from the wild. How can we sanction this form of slavery? Because that is exactly what it is."

The Power Of The People

Asked whether he believes that protest like the one on facebook will prevent the construction of a dolphinarium in Gibraltar, Dr Shaw replied: "I believe, that in this particular day and age the groudswell will get so loud that it won't happen. If this was 35 years ago, I think, people would be clapping and skipping and dancing in the street and thinking it was wonderful. We've learned a lot in 35 years. What we have learned is that there is only one way to see wildlife - and that is out in the wild."