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Government moves to suspend new approvals of aquariums for dolphins

Published:Monday | September 8, 2014 | 9:20 AM

The Government has recommended the suspension of new approvals for dolphin aquariums in Jamaica until a market and ecosystems survey is undertaken.

The recommendation is contained in a new policy aimed at regulating the use of dolphins.

According to the proposed policy, before new approvals may be granted for the establishment of dolphin aquariums surveys first have to be done to determine how many be sustainably created in the country.

The Government says the policy will address dolphins in Jamaican waters, the trading of dolphins and the use of the mammals for attractions.

According to the Environment and Climate Change Ministry, the policy is based on a precautionary approach because of the lack of data on dolphin populations.

It says decisions on further development of dolphin attractions will now be based on research and scientific data.

To date approval has been given for three dolphin aquariums in Jamaica.

In the meantime, the Government intends to develop a management plan that will explore the possibility of dolphin watching as an alternative to having the mammals in aquariums.

Dolphin importers and exporters will also face more stringent requirements.

The policy proposes that dolphins for breeding programmes cannot be obtained by lease but must be acquired outright from sources which have conducted proper population surveys.

It also proposes that at least two local veterinarians be trained to monitor dolphin facilities and stranded marine mammals.

The Bottlenose is the most popular species found in the Caribbean and according to the policy document, there is increasing demand for  tourism purposes. 

Starting this week, the Government is to hold consultations with stakeholders on the proposed policy.

It believes the document will strengthen Jamaica's local preservation laws while bringing the country in line with international regulations. 

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