The Saint Lucia National Trust (SLNT) has expressed concern over a likely backlash for this country’s vital tourism industry as Canada this week joined nations that have outlawed the capture and imprisonment of dolphins and whales.
The SLNT has been strongly opposed to the proposal to establish a dolphinarium in Saint Lucia.
In a press release Friday, the organisation said that in their scramble to prolong the life of this dying industry, promoters are seeking out countries like Saint Lucia where governments appear to be not as progressive, humane or sensitive to public opinion, to set up shop.
“Given global trends, this could tarnish Saint Lucia’s global image as a tourism destination, to the detriment of this vital industry and the jobs it sustains,” the SLNT warned.
The move by Canada’s parliament to institute the banning of whales, dolphins and porpoises from being bred or held in captivity has been welcomed by animal rights groups.
Violations are punishable by fines of up to 200,000 Canadian dollars.
But according to news reports, the bill contains some exceptions allowing marine mammals already held to remain in captivity.
In addition the animals can be kept during rehabilitation from injury or for the purposes of licensed scientific research, according to National Public Radio (NPR) Inc USA.
Former Senator Wilfred Moore of Nova Scotia, who introduced the measure, formally known as the “Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act”, said that phasing out the animals’ captivity was a “moral obligation.”
The SLNT observes that it is not governments only who are taking action to ensure freedom for ‘these intelligent, sociable sea creatures.’
“Increasingly airline companies and the cruise industry are turning their backs on this inhumane practice and tourists, who are becoming increasingly environmentally conscious, are advocating for “Freeing Willy”,” the SLNT’s release noted.
The release said that Canada’s Marineland initially resisted the Bill but on Monday said that their position had evolved and that they plan on complying with the new law.
It also observed that The Vancouver Aquarium, which also held the animals in captivity, bowed to public opposition last year on the issue.