27 December 2008

Speaking up against wild dolphins at Resorts World Sentosa

'There are so many captive-bred dolphins, it's not necessary to take them from the wild,' said Mr Louis Ng, executive director of the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres).

'There are already dolphins in Sentosa. Do we really need another marine park?' asked Mr Ng. He said Acres is in discussion with Resorts World Sentosa to address the animal welfare group's concerns.

A Marine Life Park spokesman said the transport of all the park's animals would 'comply fully with international standards, including those set by CITES'.

The Solomon Islands bottlenose dolphin trade has attracted controversy since 2003, when 28 bottlenose dolphins were shipped to an aquatic park in Mexico. International organisations and activists said the size of the islands' dolphin population has not been established, so exporting dolphins may deplete the population in the Solomon Islands beyond sustainable levels.

Animal activists decry need to import wild dolphins
Grace Chua, Straits Times 27 Dec 08;
THE first of Resorts World Sentosa's bottlenose dolphins are en route from their Solomon Islands habitat to their new home; but not without some controversy.

Although the importation of bottlenose dolphins is legal with a permit, animal activists are upset, saying the wild dolphins were not collected sustainably and will not thrive in captivity.

Earlier this month seven of the animals travelled from the Solomon Islands in the Pacific to Ocean Adventure Park at Subic Bay, in the Philippines.

Another 11 are to arrive soon, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported last Sunday.

The dolphins are bound for the Marine Life Park at Resorts World Sentosa when the integrated resort opens in 2010 and are in the Philippines for training, the Inquirer reported.

Bottlenose dolphins, one of the most common dolphins in the world, are listed in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

The listing means that trade in these animals is strictly regulated.

A Marine Life Park spokesman said the transport of all the park's animals would 'comply fully with international standards, including those set by CITES'.

The Solomon Islands bottlenose dolphin trade has attracted controversy since 2003, when 28 bottlenose dolphins were shipped to an aquatic park in Mexico.

International organisations and activists said the size of the islands' dolphin population has not been established, so exporting dolphins may deplete the population in the Solomon Islands beyond sustainable levels.

Last June, cetacean specialists from world conservation organisation International Union for the Conservation of Nature wrote to the Solomon Islands' marine resources and environment ministries, expressing concern about dolphin exports without population studies.

In Singapore, non-governmental organisations objected to the Marine Life Park's provision of wild-caught dolphins.

'There are so many captive-bred dolphins, it's not necessary to take them from the wild,' said Mr Louis Ng, executive director of the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres) - one of the local animal protection organisations.

In August, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Nature Society of Singapore and Acres spoke out against the park's move to bring in whale sharks. That plan is still underway according to reports.

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) has yet to receive an application from Resorts World Singapore to import the bottlenose dolphins, a spokesman said.

However the permit would be granted if the shipment was accompanied by a valid CITES export permit, and if it met quarantine and housing standards, the AVA added.

Resorts World Sentosa plans to continue their development of the new marine park on the island, despite protests from Singapore's animal activists.

'There are already dolphins in Sentosa. Do we really need another marine park?' asked Mr Ng. He said Acres is in discussion with Resorts World Sentosa to address the animal welfare group's concerns.

The Acres website urges Singaporeans not to support marine parks that keep dolphins in captivity.

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