The ongoing dispute over the possibility of dolphins being captured to become part of a “swim with dolphins site” on Grand Turk seems to be heating up.
The question of capturing the marine mammals for display arose during the previous Progressive National Party (PNP) elected government under then premier Michael Misick. What was planned at that time was a takeover of historic Fort George Cay, which has long been promised for transfer to the National Trust.
In the Misick-led scenario, which received strong support from then minister of natural resources McAlister “Piper” Hanchell, a dolphinarium would be constructed along with a restaurant as a tourist attraction. However, outcries from a marine biologist and the public halted this project, which seemed to permanently shelved.
Over a year ago, another Jamaican-backed dolphinarium proposal re-emerged on Providenciales. In this scheme, captured dolphins would be retained in a portion of the ocean near the beach and visitors would be able to swim and frolic with the captive animals. This was also met with protests and has now been moved to Grand Turk.
Governor Ric Todd had submitted legislation that would permit the licensed capture and containment of the dolphins. However, last Sunday an activist group demonstrated on Provo’s Grace Bay. The march was planned to protest all proposed captive dolphin sites in the TCI and to protest the slaughter of the marine mammals in Japan. Also meeting to protest was a group at the Ocean Club. These protests coincided with over 100 protests being conducted around the world, where activists from several nations protested the capture and slaughter of the creatures.
On the other side of the protest was political activist Devon William, a strong supporter of the PNP.
Williams has been sending out numerous emails that support the set up of the site now proposed for Grand Turk. In his correspondence, Williams said that the marine mammals compare to domesticated dogs and cats and the eating of animal flesh justifies the containment of the creatures.
Education is the only way to stop the operations of the outdated, unhealthy dolphin jails. It will tarnish the image of Turks & Caicos without a doubt. As having 15 years plus in the industry, I know many travel agents that will refuse to advertise Turks and Caicos and will ultimately have the reverse affect on tourism. Several country's have banned them. It is the responsibility of the government to be responsible instead of turning a blind eye to the obvious truths.