After dolphinariums, ban on whales, seals, walrus parks

The Central Zoo Authority has advised state governments to reject proposals to set up amusement parks or aquariums for housing dolphins and other marine mammals

Published: 26th August 2013 08:24 AM  |   Last Updated: 26th August 2013 08:24 AM   |  A+A-

After outlawing dolphin amusement parks in the country, the Ministry of Environment and Forests has banned raising other marine mammals like whales, walruses, seals, in similar parks.

In its August 13 order, the Central Zoo Authority, which falls under the ministry, advised state governments to reject proposals to set up amusement parks or aquariums for housing dolphins and marine mammals.

Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan was instrumental in banning the dolphin parks, after wildlife activists protested, saying that taking the mammals out of their natural habitat of sea and rivers amounted to cruelty. “The state governments are advised to reject any such proposal for dolphinariums to any person, organisations, government agencies, private or public enterprises that involves the import and capture of cetacean species including marine mammals for commercial entertainment, private or public exhibition and interaction purposes whatsoever,” the order said. Marine mammals include over 100 species which include seals, whales, dolphins, and walruses.

In its earlier order of May 17, the Centre said it had decided not to allow dolphinariums in the country as they can seriously compromise the welfare and survival of all types of marine mammals by altering their behaviour and causing them extreme distress. The ministry had received a plea which said that scientists who researched dolphins’ behaviour suggested that given their unusually high intelligence, they should be seen as “non-human persons” having specific rights and that it is morally unacceptable to keep them captive for entertainment purposes.

The cetaceans in general do not survive well in captivity. The ministry order capped several proposals that were in pipeline in several states such as Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Maharashtra.  The ministry said all such proposals required ministerial approval because keeping marine mammals under captivity would come under the definition of zoos.  In a separate order, the ministry prohibited the removal of shark fins. Under this policy, possession of shark fins that are not naturally attached to the body of the shark, would amount to “hunting” of a Schedule I species.  The ministry said sharks, rays and skates were important parts of the marine ecosystem.  “Owing to the high demand of shark fins in the industry, it has been reported that the fins of the sharks captured in the mid-sea are removed and the de-finned sharks are thrown back, leaving them to die a painful death. This has decimated the population of the Schedule I species,” a ministry official said. India is home to about 40-60 species of sharks. However, the population of some of these have declined over the years due to several reasons including the over exploitation.


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