There has been much talk about the opening of a "Dolphin Attraction" for the Turks and Caicos and the Governor's actions in this regard. I reviewed the facts:
October 5: Via official press release the Government of the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCIG) informs that a business license has been granted to "Dolphin Cove" for the operation of a tourist attraction featuring captive dolphins, and goes on to cite Governor Ric Todd stating: "This is potentially a very exciting development for the Turks and Caicos Islands. (...) Although, clearly still subject to a number of permissions, we believe that the Dolphin Cove development would significantly complement the tourism offer here in the Turks and Caicos islands." The press release omits the fact that at press time, the import of live sea mammals is illegal both in the TCI and the UK. Dolphin attractions have been closed in the UK in 1993 and remain closed.
October 26: Governor Ric Todd amends the Fisheries Protections Regulations, to allow the import of live sea mammals into the TCI -- a practice illegal until then. The public learns that the business license issued on or before October 5 was for the operation of a business illegal under the laws of both the TCI and UK. After October 26, this type of business still remains illegal in the UK.
October 31: The Governor's spokesman issues another press release, stating that the application by Dolphin Cove "was made in an open and transparent manner". He further outlines that the grant of a business license for an illegal business on October 5 does not pre-empt or influence a decision by the Planning Board, and that a further "license to operate" is needed. In stark contrast to the October 5 release, he states that no decision has been made in this regard, nor does the issuance of a business license in breach of the law of the TCI indicate any support by TCIG for this project.
The October 26 decision to legalize this already approved business was made post-factum and per decree by Governor Ric Todd 14 days before the first democratic elections were to be held since the suspension of democracy in 2009. There was no public consultation and no representation of the native people of the TCI on the change of the law to legalize the import of captive dolphins.
Governor Ric Todd, who rules the Turks and Caicos Islands by decree and without representation of the people, first set foot on the Turks and Caicos Islands in September 2011. Even after democratic elections on November 9, 2012, the Governor will hold power to overrule any decision by the elected government and to pass laws without the consent of Parliament.
Turks and Caicos is home to a large number of wild bottlenose dolphins. A particularly tame dolphin by the name of Jojo has been a tourist attraction on the local beaches for more than 20 years. In 1990, project "Into the Blue" brought three captive dolphins from UK dolphin attractions to the TCI for their rehabilitation -- Rocky, Missy and Silver were released into the wild in 1991.
A petition to stop the Dolphin Cove development has gathered over 1,500 signatures so far. There is little to no support for this venture in the native TCI population.