By Penelope Karaolis
AGRICULTURE minister Nicos Kouyialis said that foreign investors’ requests to operate dolphinaria in Cyprus are being carefully reviewed, with animal rights groups calling for him to abandon the idea.
Cyprus is the only EU member state that has not only banned the creation of dolphinaria but also the importation of any cetacean in general. The use of cetaceans for performance or entertainment purposes has been illegal in Cyprus since 1997.
The Animal Party Cyprus (ACP) is concerned over the progress in talks to legalise dolphinaria.
“We call on the Mister of Agriculture to examine carefully our Party’s concerns,” it said in an announcement.
According to the ACP, the creation of dolphinaria is unnecessary and would ignore not only Cypriot legislation, but a global outcry which will inevitably follow if Kouyialis and Council of Ministers approve.
Born Free Foundation, an international wildlife charity, reports that “at least 89 captive dolphin facilities are known to operate throughout Europe, holding over 500 hundred captive cetaceans, the collective name for whales, dolphins and porpoises.
The largest number of captive dolphin facilities are in Russia (24), Ukraine (17), Spain (11) and Turkey (10), many of which are notably located near popular tourist destinations.”
Even though dolphinaria may be considered as a major tourist attraction, a 2009 survey conducted for a case against marine mammals in captivity by the World Society for the Protection of Animals found that 80 per cent of the public stated that marine mammals should not be kept in captivity unless there are major educational or scientific benefits.
The last European mini demonstration against dolphinaria took place in Brussels on June 28 with more than 400 participants.