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Victory for Dolphin Defenders
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One Voice is pleased to announce that Graham Dundas Simpson of Reno, Nevada, is facing a $70.000 fine by the Civil Penalties Division of the Office of Foreign Assets and Control (OFAC), a division of the U.S. Customs and Treasury Department, for the illegal purchase of six Cuban dolphins. In January 2000, Mr. Simpson exported the dolphins to his newly opened captive dolphin swim program on the Caribbean island of Anguilla. For a US citizen to conduct business with Cuba is a violation of the so-called Helms-Burton Act of the United States. Simpson recently sold his operation to Dolphin Discovery, another captive dolphin swim program based in Cancun, Mexico.

Dolphin Discovery is next

One Voice applauds the OFAC decision to fine Simpson for the illegal trade. Richard O'Barry, Marine Mammal Specialist with One Voice, and Canadian dolphin campaigner Gwen McKenna have asked the US Treasury Department to investigate Mike Wood and other US citizens who are operating Dolphin Discovery. Dolphin Discovery has purchased at least 33 dolphins from Cuba, although the number could go as high as 70. The evidence has been turned over to the US Treasury Department.
Dolphin Discovery has been in business since 1994 and operates dolphin parks in the Mexican tourists destinations of Cancun, Cozumel and Puerto Aventuras, and in the Caribbean islands of Tortola, Antigua and Anguilla. „We have reason to believe that all of their facilities are holding Cuban dolphins," O'Barry said.

Major supplier

According to United Nations records, Cuba and Russia are the world's two leading exporters of dolphins. In the past ten years, Cuba has supplied more than one hundred dolphins to captive dolphin swim parks in Europe, Mexico, Latin America and the Caribbean. Since a voluntary moratorium against dolphin captures went into effect in the United States in 1990, Cuba has become one of the world's largest exporters of dolphins for dolphinariums around the world. Customers are willing to pay as much as $150 for twenty minutes in a tank or sea-cage with dolphins. As a result, the trade in dolphins has become a profitable business. A newly captured dolphin can bring in from $40,000 to $70,000 US dollars.

Caribbean Islands campaign

Captive dolphin swim programs are expanding into the Caribbean at an alarming rate. The swim programs target tourists who pay large amounts of money for a close-up encounter with the exotic animals. The cruise industry plays an important role in the growth of tourism in this region. It is estimated that the cruise industry in the Caribbean region hosts about 50% of the cruise ship passengers in the world. Captive dolphin swim programs are seen as easy moneymakers in this luxury market, and dolphin-encounter programs have been established in Cuba, the Bahamas, Jamaica, Bermuda, Mexico, Venezuela, Honduras and the Dominican Republic. Since 2001, captive dolphin swim programs have been set up in the Netherlands Antilles, Anguilla, Tortola, Dominica and in the dual-island nation Antigua and Barbuda. Furthermore, Dolphin Discovery is now planning to expand their operation into the Cayman Islands that attract over one million cruise ship visitors each year. The Cayman Islands government has already issued a permit to import the dolphins. Dolphin freedom advocates are concerned that the dolphins slated for the Cayman Islands are Cuban dolphins that were purchased illegally by US citizens.

One Voice is currently campaigning to stop captive dolphin swim programs in the Caribbean Islands. "We need to ensure that the expansion of dolphin swim attractions and the illegal trade in Cuban dolphins are stopped," said Muriel Arnal, One Voice President.

Read Miami Herald story here: http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/9519340.htm

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