Activist in Oscar-winning docu urges ban on dolphin import
MANILA, Philippines - Many will recognize Ric O’Barry from his dramatic appearance in the Oscar-winning documentary, "The Cove," but O’Barry says his campaign to save dolphins stretches well beyond any Hollywood ending.
On September 14, O’Barry made his first visit to the Philippines in 10 years to make a personal appeal.
“I spend a lot of my time trying to educate the consumers, people who buy tickets for dolphin shows, in the hope they will become educated and stop buying those tickets,” said O’Barry.
O’Barry said the Philippines has the opportunity be the first Asian country to ban the import of dolphins. Currently, dolphins being captured in the Solomon Islands are being sent to the Philippines for training and holding for larger parks in Singapore.
The Philippines has imported a total of 27 dolphins, two of which have already died. Statistically, dolphins do not fare well in captivity, with many casualties attributed to deplorable, unregulated conditions, traumatic stress during transport, and even neuroses from confinement.
According to O'Barry, discouraging the public from buying tickets to see dolphins at ocean-themed parks is the key to suppressing the demand for captive dolphins.
O’Barry works tirelessly with the environmental group Earth Island Institute to raise awareness on the ground, but he also endorses work at the legislative level, particularly that of Kabataan Partylist Rep Raymond Palatino.
Setting a precedent
Palatino is championing an effort to ban educational programs that expose school children to marine parks. His resolution suggests that the Department of Education (DepEd) has a “moral obligation” to instill cultural values in children, including a “true respect for nature.”
According to O’Barry, holding dolphins captive in artificial environments encourage children to be irreverent of nature.
“We need to teach our children to control their desires,” said O’Barry.
“That’s the solution to all our environmental problems…we can’t always get what we want," O'Barry added.
Another obstacle for activists is the inherent legislative design that puts marine mammal conservation under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.
Trixie Concepcion of the Earth Island Institute is dismayed about working with a government agency whose primary concern is food security, and which lacks the expertise and resources for conservation efforts.
O’Barry and Concepcion agreed there is no point in saving dolphins if habitats are not saved. - Rappler.com