Operating licences have never been issued for any commercial animal operations in the Cayman Islands although the Animals Law does require it, the Department of Agriculture has confirmed.
This is because the enabling regulations necessary for issuing these licences are not in place.
The issue recently came up with the arrival of six bottlenose dolphins at Dolphin Discovery in West Bay when it emerged that the facility does not have the operational licence required by law.
The DOA points out that the absence of operating licences is not unique to either of the dolphin facilities as it is the case for all commercial animal operations.
The DoA said in a statement to the Caymanian Compass: ‘Although the Animals Law does include a requirement for operating licences for a wide range of commercial activities including boarding of pet animals such as kennels; breeding and sale of pets such as pet shops; guard dog services and keeping animals for public display such as zoos; to date operating licences have never been issued for any of the facilities as the enabling regulations necessary for issuing of these licences are not in place.’
Mr. Billy Adam of campaign group Keep Dolphins Free in the Cayman Islands has heavily criticised the Government for not adhering to the laws in relation to the operating licence and Dolphin Discovery’s lack of a (effluent) discharge permit.
‘It’s just another example of poor governance that these licences have not been fully granted. The Government is setting a bad example by not requiring compliance with the laws,’ he said.
The DoA statement noted that the Ministry of District Administration, Planning, Agriculture and Housing and the Department of Agriculture agree that this situation is ‘undesirable’ and are working with the legal department to draft the necessary regulations. Once these are completed, the Department will begin the process of issuing operating licences, the statement said.
However, no timeline was given for when this will happen.
The DoA stated that the absence of such operating licences does not mean that the DoA is unable to regulate such facilities.
‘. . . other sections of the Law provide the Department with the mechanisms for protecting animal health and welfare. Therefore should any enterprise operate in such a manner as to negatively impact the health or welfare of the animals involved, the Department, under the Law has the power to address the situation.’
In the specific case of the dolphin facilities, there are Conditions for Housing, Husbandry, and Use of Bottlenose Dolphins in the Cayman Islands.
‘It is to these conditions that the facilities will be held to and evaluated against,’ said the statement.
The DoA noted that the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums Standards and Guidelines are comprehensive on this subject, which dolphinarium operators here are also required to adhere to.
Mr. Adam criticised the fact that these AMMPI standards have not been disclosed.
Meanwhile, the Water Authority was determining last week whether the outstanding issues had been satisfactorily addressed for the discharge permit for Dolphin Discovery, the Water Authority having issued a notice of violation to the Turtle Farm on 5 December last.
As a lessee of the Turtle Farm, a Variation on the Turtle Farm discharge permit is needed to allow Dolphin Discovery to operate through that
The Turtle Farm will have a specified period to address the violation, said Director of the Water Authority Gelia Frederick-van Genderen.
The outcome depends on Turtle Farm and Dolphin Discovery providing satisfactory information.
‘If no satisfactory solution is found the matter may be referred to the Attorney General for further action,’ she stated.