Seven species referred to as whales but are genetically dolphins
It is the thought of many people that it is unlawful to capture wild dolphins in the US. Regardless of the fact that no permits have been issued for dolphin captures since 1989, it is still legal to capture dolphins. Over the past 20 years, no wild dolphins have been captured in American waters because of the violence that surrounds the capture of the animals. Therefore, the captivity industry has grown cautious. It avoids drawing to itself negative attention and protests by planning to catch wild dolphins.
The MMPA notes that capturing wild dolphins is allowed provided the individual requests for and is issued with an authorization from the (NMFS. Authorization to capture wild dolphins can be granted by the NMFS for the following four reasons. Dolphins can be captured for scientific research, public display, accidental captures by fishermen and conservation.
A marine park can obtain a licence to capture a wild dolphin. However, they have first to apply to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). This organisation will subsequently send the request to its Marine Mammal Conservation for reviews and posting in the Federal Register. After posting the application to the register, there will be a thirty-day period allowed for public comment. During this period, welfare groups concerned about animals together with activists can present letters challenging the ethics of the planned capture. When the thirty days are over, the verdict will be reached on whether or not the person requesting needs to be granted a permit to capture or import a dolphin.
Also, before one obtains a permit, there are three requirements that need to be fulfilled. The motive behind these laws is to ensure that the dolphins are not individual property and as such kept as a private collection. First, the center must be education or conservation oriented based on the approved conventions used by the public display community, as well as the American Zoo and Aquarium Association. Also, the Alliance of Marine Parks and Aquariums. Second, the facility must be open to the public on a regular basis. Lastly, an individual can only keep a marine mammal on public display. It also covers interactive programs like swimming-with-dolphins. This is allowed only if they are authorized under the Animal Welfare Act.
The AWA, which was created in 1979, lays down the standards for the rearing of captured dolphins. Although NMFS is mandated with administering the Marine Mammal Protection Act, their powers end when a dolphin is captured. Following the capture of a dolphin, the USDA as well as APHIS possesses the power to enforce the AWA. This establishes the criteria for keeping marine mammals in captivity and specifies guidelines for space various aspects of dolphin keeping. There are space requirements such that the size of the dolphin tank is large enough. Also, there are standards regarding the quality of water and sanitation. In addition, a dolphin must be transported and handled with care. When the mammal arrives at its destination, it must get quality food in its diet as well as veterinary care.
When it comes to exporting dolphins, marine facilities and aquariums are not required to get a permit. According to MMPA, the authorization issued by NMFS to buy a dolphin from another country for public display gives the current of the dolphin the authority to move it from one public display facility to another without extra authorizations. The implication is that marine parks are allowed to sell, exchange or purchase dolphins from parks within and outside the United States at will without any restrictions.
The NMFS requires that the facility in the receiving country meets certain standards. For instance, it must meet the US criteria for water quality and space requirements. Moreover, the organization receiving the dolphin should have educational or conservation oriented programs. The receiving country must also provide comity, which shows courtesy through which one state demonstrates honor for the decisions made by another sovereign to NMFS. Neither the NMFS nor APHIS is able to enact rules after the dolphin leaves the borders of the United States. This means that it becomes unable to finally ensure the welfare of the marine mammals.
It ultimately remains that the life of a dolphin, whether captive-bred or wild-captured is typically poor. Many captive programs claim to be conservation minded. However, the reality is that these dolphins are bred to replenish their numbers for displays and interactive programs. The artificial environments to which dolphins are introduced cannot be justified as conservation oriented because the surroundings alters their behavior from that of their wild counterparts. Scientists cannot therefore claim that the captive-bred dolphins can reveal all the secrets of their wild counterparts.