The Dominican Republic has passed legislation that prohibits the sale of dolphins as reported by Dolphin Project. The new legislation, published by the Dominican Republic’s Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, is said to cover a period of five years. During this time, dolphins cannot be purchased or sold within the Caribbean nation.
Unfortunately, the decision does not ban the captivity of dolphins at current facilities but Dolphin Project believes that the legislation will have an impact. Dolphin Project said: “We applaud the Ministry for taking this action, as this is an important advance for local activists who have been working hard to defend the freedom of dolphins. Dolphin Project encourages the government to extend this legislation indefinitely, and eliminate facilities, including swim-with programs that continue to keep dolphins captive for profit.”
Dolphin Project is the longest-running anti-captivity dolphin organization in the world and has supported local conservation efforts for many years. In September 2014, Ric O’Barry received a special recognition from the Academia del Cine República Dominicana (ACRD) for his dedication and commitment to ending dolphin captivity and promoting their rehabilitation and release.
A report by Dr. Yolanda Alaniz Pasini for the World Society for the Protection of Animals explored the experience of captive dolphins in Mexico and the Dominican Republic. The report found that just 4.2% of deaths of dolphins living in captivity were related to age. The report noted that most deaths are related to stress, infection, and irresponsible or bad handling.
As well, the public has become much more aware of the rising concern of captive marine animals. One of the leading marine mammal parks in the world, SeaWorld, continues to see a decline in popularity. SeaWorld has seen dramatic decreases in quarterly earnings since the documentary Blackfish painted a very negative image in the handling of the parks captive Orca whales.
The decision by the Dominican should help lead the path for other countries to jump on board and stop the selling of dolphins and other marine mammals. At the heart of the Dominican’s tourist industry is the popular all-inclusive spot Punta Cana where multiple resorts and parks currently have live dolphin encounters in captivity.