Sep 15, 2010
New Zealand commits to protecting dolphins
A New Zealand government official recently made a statement opposing dolphinariums and committing to changing the country’s legislation to ban these facilities for good.
Under New Zealand’s current Marine Mammals Protection Act (NZ MMPA), it is illegal to take (i.e., harm, harass, injure and attract) marine mammals in New Zealand waters. However, holding a marine mammal in captivity, taking a marine mammal from the wild, and importing or exporting marine mammals is allowed with a permit approved by the Minister of Conservation.
New Zealand’s current Minister of Conservation, Kate Wilkinson, recently stated in a letter to WSPA that the New Zealand government is in favor of standardizing the NZ MMPA with the Department of Conservation’s Conservation General Policy. Section 4.4 (k) of the Policy states: “Whales and dolphins should not be brought into or bred in captivity in New Zealand, or exported to be held in captivity, except where this is essential for the conservation management of the species.”
Minister Wilkinson also stated that prohibiting the holding of dolphins for public display would be considered as part of a wider review and revision of the NZ MMPA occurring in the future.
WSPA New Zealand Country Manager Bridget Vercoe commented on the fantastic news: “Many countries around the world already have legislation prohibiting the taking, holding, importing and exporting of dolphins. Adding New Zealand’s name to this growing list will help strengthen public and government opposition to this cruel practice, worldwide.
“We hope to capitalize on the support we’ve had from Minister Wilkinson and will continue to campaign for a review of the MMPA under the current government administration, to ensure that the commitment to this issue is enshrined in national legislation,” Vercoe added.
Dolphins are poorly adapted to life in captivity due to their wide-ranging and social nature. Captive facilities cannot meet the physiological and psychological needs of these highly intelligent mammals. Read the scientific and ethical arguments against keeping marine mammals in captivity in the report The Case Against Marine Mammals in Captivity, co-produced by WSPA and HSUS.
In stark contrast to the progress in New Zealand, Sept. 1marked the start of another dolphin drive hunt season in Japanese waters. In towns such as Taiji and Futo, dolphins and other small whales are herded into a bay or cove using boats, where they are either brutally slaughtered for their meat or captured and sold into the captivity industry. The slaughter will continue until April of next year.
Alongside well-known dolphin advocate Ric O’Barry and other prominent global animal welfare groups, WSPA will continue to protest dolphin drive hunts. Join us in October at Japanese Embassies and Consulates around the world for the international protest against these cruel and unnecessary hunts. Details on the dates and times will be announced shortly.
Image © CW AZORES/Justin Hart