Sunday, October 01, 2017

Agadir's Dolphinarium Project Causes Controversy

A petition on the Internet has been launched as part of the campaign by animal rights activists to stop the construction of a dolphinarium in Agadir
Architect's impression of Agadir Dolphin World

Four Russian contractors are preparing to build the first dolphinarium in Morocco, in the commune of Anza, north of Agadir. The dolphin park is due to open in March 2018.

Four dolphins, a seal and a beluga (white cetacean originating in the North Sea) will be sent from Russia by plane to Agadir to populate the dolphinarium created by the company Agadir Dolfin World and designed by the Moroccan firm KM Architecture. The different marine mammals all come from a dolphinarium in Russia and were born in captivity.

A project that goes, "against the notion of sustainable development", according to the Moroccan branch of the Surfrider Foundation, are petitioning the ministers of Agriculture and Fisheries, and Energy and Sustainable Development to prevent the creation of this dolphinarium that "hides the sad reality of the (poor) living conditions in captivity" of dolphins.

The petition, published on Avaaz, which has collected thousands of signatures, condemns the conditions of captivity of dolphins, "enclosed in shallow basins which they can traverse, while the wild dolphins travel nearly 100 km per day and spend 80% of their time immersed in the depths of the ocean, to socialise and hunt".

Architect's drawing showing the small dolphin enclosure

According to the Surfrider Foundation, an NGO dedicated to the defence of the oceans, coastlines and marine animals, captive dolphins only survive half as long as wild dolphins because of the stress of captive life, and develop a large number of illnesses related to their conditions of detention.

"Seeing dolphins locked, enslaved, sick and stressed, performing acrobatics can in no way help to educate the public about dolphins, the environment and sustainable development," the association writes. "Forcing dolphins into captivity is a form of slavery, maltreatment and cruel unethical treatment."

The project has received all the legal authorisations from the Moroccan authorities for the construction of the dolphinarium, which will also include an aquarium, green areas and playgrounds. Veterinarians and specialists will come from Russia to look after the animals, but the staff for the maintenance of the site and the reception of the visitors will be hired locally.

According to the statutes of the company Agadir Dolfin World, created in March and managed by one of the partners, Aleksei Derii, the four Russian shareholders have contributed 100,000 dirhams of capital for the creation of their company.

Several countries have banned dolphinaria. The United Kingdom closed their last dolphinarium back in 1993. While in Europe, Croatia, Cyprus and Finland have also banned or closed the last existing dolphinariums. Other countries, such as Costa Rica, Chile and India, have banned dolphin parks. France has just prohibited the reproduction of dolphins and killer whales held in captivity.

The petition, published on Avaaz, points out that while Morocco, under the enlightened vision of His Majesty King Mohammed VI, has adopted a National Strategy for Sustainable Development,  the creation of a Dolphinarium cannot be synonymous with sustainable development for the country.

At a time when associations and NGOs in many countries are campaigning for the closure of the dolphinariums on their territory, why would Morocco in 2017 create its first dolphinarium when it has embarked on the path of sustainable development?


1 comment:

Yvon Godefroid said...

Never a dolphin or a beluga was born in captivity in Russia. Dolphins were captured in Taiji, Japan and belugas in the White Sea. Never believe a russian animal trader.