Today’s Editorial March 16: Dolphin study

Another group has weighed in on the captive dolphin controversy.

And this is no regular group; it’s the Cayman Islands Tourism Authority.

Its members are totally against any kind of captive dolphin facility being opened in the Cayman Islands.

It’s not the first time CITA has polled its 188 members on this issue. And it’s not the first time they’ve voted against such facilities.

But this time more members made their voices heard.

A position paper from the watersports sector of the CITA is urging the Government to put laws in place to prohibit captive dolphin facilities in Cayman before it’s too late.

While Government doesn’t have to take advice from CITA, it should take into consideration the points the group makes.

Specifically, CITA members are opposed to the facilities because dolphin attractions are being closed down on a regular basis in other countries and opening one here could create a tourism nightmare when potential tourists begin boycotting this country.

They have other reasons for advising against captive dolphin facilities.

They’re concerned about the effects of runoff dolphin excrement on the reefs and the marine environment.

They’re worried about the ethics of those who capture dolphins and sell them to dolphinariums and the negative perception of what goes on in the captures.

They also want to keep Cayman what it is – Cayman.

CITA members believe there is already much to offer tourists and they support the growth of new tourist attractions, but of those that will benefit many; not just a few.

A caycompass.com online poll on the dolphin issue drew nearly 4,000 responses, of which 92 per cent were opposed to any type of captive dolphin facility in the Cayman Islands.

Proponents of the facilities say there is a need for a new tourism attraction in the Cayman Islands and that dolphinariums will fit the bill.

They also say that a captive dolphin facility will draw more tourists and therefore more dollars to the country’s coffers.

They also tout the educational aspects of a marine park and the knowledge humans can gain by interacting with these mammals.

As in every issue, there are two sides to every story.

It’s up to Government to ultimately decide whether captured dolphin facilities are a good match for the Cayman Islands, and specifically for Grand Cayman.

In making that decision they must listen to the public and agencies like CITA as well as the proponents.

The decision must be made based on a complete study of the issue and not just for monetary gain for either the Government or the developers of captive dolphin facilities.