In Defense of Animals (IDOA), a 30-year-old international organization with over 250,000 supporters has commenced a campaign to stop the return of the Swim With the Dolphin programme that was halted following hurricane Irma in 2017.
The campaign was launched last week with a heading “Encourage Tortola to Develop Ethical Tourism” and had garnered 4, 501 supporters up to yesterday and actually published the government’s switchboard number asking its supporters to call the Premier’s Office.
The organization requests that its supporters contact Premier Hon. Andrew Fahie under its ‘what you can do’ section of the campaign description. It stated, “Call Premier Andrew Fahie at 1 (284) 468-3701. Press 0 to speak to an operator. Either leave a message or ask to speak to Premier Andrew Fahie. Politely ask that Tortola explore other options for sustainable tourism development, and not to allow Dolphin Discovery to set up its cruel and outdated captive dolphin facility on the island.”
The group also created an email form for persons to send emails to the Government.
The crux of the campaign is to ensure that the Dolphin Discovery programme does not recommence as the IDOA stated that the programme was inhumane.
“As the harmful effects of captivity on cetaceans become increasingly well-known, some business interests continue to push for cetacean exploitation. A new deal may soon be inked to rebuild Prospect Reef park on the British Virgin Islands, which features swim-with-dolphin experiences. Now is the time to urge decision-makers to opt for ethical alternatives to captivity,” the organization stated.
The organization further announced that, “Dolphin swim encounters put both people and dolphins at risk. A few weeks ago, a young girl was attacked at Dolphin Discovery’s Cancun location by a dolphin who was “distressed.”
According to the pressure group, Dolphins suffer chronic stress in captivity, where they are prevented from travelling vast areas in their wild habitat, forced to bear calves who are often taken from them permanently, and are compelled to perform degrading tricks in order to eat.
"This is no life for a sentient, intelligent and emotional being,” IDOA stated.
In its call for support In Defence of Animals stated, “While we overall support the redevelopment and repair of the islands, we must speak up to save cetaceans from the horrors of captivity. Please write to Andrew Fahie, Premier of the British Virgin Islands, to encourage investment in ethical tourism opportunities instead of rebuilding this facility, which perpetuates cruelty to dolphins and endangers people as well.”
This is the second recent campaign to stop the Swim With the Dolphin business.
As recent as October, a petition stemmed from the announcement that was made by Premier and Minister for Finance Hon. Andrew Fahie that Dolphin Discovery the company that manages the ‘Swim With the Dolphin’ activity is returning after being disrupted by the 2017 hurricanes.