The Bahamas relies heavily on the tourism industry to boost its economy. Thus, it was only a matter of time before an unethical opportunity would arise: the captive dolphin industry. The country currently has 70 captive dolphins in three operating dolphin facilities with swim-with dolphin programs. In an attempt to make greater profit, a proposed fourth facility, planned to open on Blackbeard’s Cay — with 8 captured dolphins, shipped from Honduras in July 2013 (currently held in shallow and unprotected sea pens).
But that won’t become a reality, thanks to a recent court decision against the Bahamas government, the import permits and operating licenses of Blue Illusions, the company behind the proposed facility have been revoked, meaning these dolphins are now free!
In addition to this landmark decision, the ruling judge awarded all expenses paid to those organizations and individuals on the ground in the Bahamas, including a local organization known as reEarth, who are leading the opposition against the Blackbeard’s Cay case. The ruling decision also legitimizes the Bahama’s current marine mammal protection law, where marine animals can only be imported for research purposes. (Although we wish for no animals to be imported at all, this is a first step to stop the importation of captive marine animals!)
While this is fantastic news, the defendant, Blue Illusions –a.k.a. dolphin captors — may appeal this decision. If they do, let’s hope the appeal doesn’t make it through. We don’t need to add another 8 dolphins to the current 70 held captive in the Bahamas.
Image source: Silvia Scarli/WWF