Dolphin Defenders collects 1,500 signatures against dolphinarium

POSTED: 03/2/11 1:59 PM

Plans are only a rumor; government and Royal Caribbean deny, but:

St. Maarten / By Hilbert Haar – While few people seem to have seen actual plans, an Internet-driven petition is underway to object to the construction of a dolphinarium in St. Maarten. Yesterday, four days after the start, the petition, initiated by a group called Dolphin Defenders St. Maarten, had already collected more than 1,500 signatures. The target is 10,000.

The Today Newspaper finally managed to get in touch with Cynthia Martinez at the corporate communications department of Royal Caribbean International, the cruise line that is rumored to be involved in the plans. Martinez was brief but clear: “I am not aware of those plans.”

Last month, Public works Minister Theo Heyliger told this newspaper the same thing, indicating that there are no official plans for the construction of a dolphinarium known to him.

Prodding other local sources yielded the same result. But in spite of this, the rumors are persistent. The involvement of Royal Caribbean may stem from the fact that the cruise line has a stake, or probably owns, the EDC-grounds near the harbor – the place that has become some sort of an unwanted landmark because of the huge mountain of sand that has been stored there.

Dolphin Defenders’ mission statement on the care petition web site consists of three points. The organization wants to stop “any and all current plans for captive dolphins and all other marine mammals on St. Maarten.”

The second point concerns legislation. Dolphin Defenders wants to have it written into the law of country St. Maarten “that there will be no form of marine mammal captivity, in any type of facility, for any reason whatsoever, now or in the future.”

The third point of the mission statement is about bringing awareness to St. Maarten “regarding the importance of protecting the freedom of dolphins and other marine mammals from the negative and cruel captive dolphin and marine mammal industry, destructive fishing practices and environmental hazards in our waters.”

The current petition drive targets the government of St Maarten. Dolphin Defenders says that the rumored initiative would be the third attempt to establish a dolphinarium in St. Maarten. Earlier attempts involved a group of Mexican investors and another group from Gibraltar.

Dolphin defenders asks supporters to say no to a dolphinarium in St. Maarten, to say no to a swim with the dolphins program, and to say no to dolphin captivity ion the island.

“A dolphinarium on St. Maarten would be purely for commercial gain,” Dolphin Defenders states on the web site. “There is no educational, economical, conservation or environmental reason to open a dolphinarium on St. Maarten. There are many, many alternative activities which can be introduced to increase our tourism product for both cruise and stay-over guests.”

Dolphin Defenders wants to petition the investors behind the project as well as the government of St. Maarten.


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