Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The Phuket Gazette endorses the recent call by SKAL and several other groups in petitioning Tourism and Sports Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul to put to an end, once and for all, to the plans to open a “dolphinarium” in Chalong.

In their letter to the minister, SKAL makes a succinct yet highly compelling 12-point argument against the dolphinarium, which has already been constructed with funding from Ukranian investors.

There is no doubt that public opinion here in Phuket is overwhelmingly opposed to a dolphinarium anywhere on the island. A Gazette online readers’ poll conducted last year, after news of the facility’s construction broke, found that 98% of tourists were opposed to it. Internationally, more than 17,000 people have already signed an online petition launched by the Sea Shepherd Global Conservation Society, which is just one of several high-profile international NGOs that have rallied together to oppose the project.

The many arguments against the dolphinarium are too extensive to be cited here in full. In addition to serious legal and safety concerns, the opening of such a facility would severely damage Phuket’s reputation as a sustainable and eco-friendly tourist destination – especially since the dark secret of how dolphins are brutally captured in the wild, at places like Japan’s notorious Taiji Cove, was revealed in the 2009 Academy Award winning documentary The Cove.

The only argument in favor of a dolphinarium that we are aware of is financial. The strategy is apparently based on attracting busloads of packaged tourists from places like mainland China and Russia. We feel it insulting to presume that people in these market segments lack sufficient awareness of the issues involved, especially at a time when countries as diverse as the United Kingdom and India have comprehensively banned the capture and display of cetaceans for human amusement and profit.

Some readers might harbor positive childhood memories about going to a dolphin show, but that was a different time – before it was revealed just how badly marine mammals suffer, physically and psychologically, in captivity. These truths have been clearly revealed by former dolphin trainers and handlers, most notably former “Flipper” trainer Ric O’Barry, whose organization 'Dolphin Project' is actively campaigning to stop the Phuket dolphinarium.

A more detailed argument against a dolphinarium entitled ‘The Case of Opposition to the Phuket Dolphinarium’ breaks down in great detail the numerous flaws with this project and the dangers it carries for Phuket’s image and environment.

The interim government of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-ocha has correctly tackled the very difficult issue of Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing practices in Thai waters. We hope they will also consider using the special powers under Article 44 of the interim charter to ban the future development of any facilities in Thailand that would involve public display of cetaceans, and to incorporate this directive into the country’s 20-year “development plan” currently being drafted in Bangkok.

This article first appeared in the July 18-24 issue of the hard-copy Phuket Gazette newspaper.

Digital subscribers may download the full newspaper, this week and every week, by clicking here.

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1

While I appreciate the editors' concerns, I think using Article 44 to accomplish those ends is the wrong way to go. Pulling the Article 44 genie out of the bottle is asking for trouble.

Posted by Patrick Mattimore July 19, 2015 07:42:45AM

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2

It appears it's going ahead on the grounds that it is legal. There are plenty of dolphinariums around the world that are legal, Australia for one. I'm not defending either argument, for or against. If it's going ahead, it must be legal and they have the right of compensation if it gets stopped.

Posted by skip July 19, 2015 10:56:12AM

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3    41

3

Why are tigers ok? As in Tiger Kingdom. But dolphins are not okay? I don't like either, so no skin off my nose.

Posted by zib July 19, 2015 11:03:33AM

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8    19

4

And so the PG endorses the use of facism in the service of thwarting a controversial, but probably legal, animal show. Where would the editors draw the line in the use of dictatorship? Anywhere?

Posted by matt July 19, 2015 11:34:12AM

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9    24

5

While I appreciate the editors' concerns, I think using Article 44 to accomplish those ends is the wrong way to go. Pulling the Article 44 genie out of the bottle is asking for trouble.

Posted by Patrick Mattimore

Completely agree. And if we're going to see it invoked to save the dolphins, why would we not expect the same to save the sharks; the slow lorises; and Phuket's precious population of white-rumped shama birds? We all adore the dolphins, of course, but hey - this is a total non-issue when viewed in the context of saving Thailand itself.

Posted by Derek Hughes July 19, 2015 06:34:23PM

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6

This petition will go nowhere. As usual, it's a bunch of excited, sanctimonious, bleeding-heart farang leading the charge and trying to impose their values on a country quite entitled to its own.

Posted by Whoa July 19, 2015 06:44:43PM

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11    15

7

Reading the comments so far, you'd be forgiven for thinking this forum is only viewable in the Ukraine, Russia or China.

Posted by agogohome July 19, 2015 07:00:55PM

Reply

12    14

8

While I appreciate the editors' concerns, I think using Article 44 to accomplish those ends is the wrong way to go. Pulling the Article 44 genie out of the bottle is asking for trouble.

Posted by Patrick Mattimore

Completely agree. And if we're going to see it invoked to save the dolphins, why would we not expect the same to save the sharks; the slow lorises; and Phuket's precious population of white-rumped shama birds? We all adore the dolphins, of course, but hey - this is a total non-issue when viewed in the context of saving Thailand itself.

Posted by Derek Hughes

Absolutely agree, Article 44 belongs in history, not as a tool for this kind of action. Unfortunately, it looks as if only we lowly westerners care about this issue and have no recourse whatsoever to prevent it. By law, foreigners cannot protest and any attempts to start a boycott can lead to the all-too-oft misused libel laws to shut us up. Maybe it's just time to boycott Thailand entirely.

Posted by The Night Mare July 19, 2015 10:01:50PM

Reply

7    10

8

While I appreciate the editors' concerns, I think using Article 44 to accomplish those ends is the wrong way to go. Pulling the Article 44 genie out of the bottle is asking for trouble.

Posted by Patrick Mattimore

Completely agree. And if we're going to see it invoked to save the dolphins, why would we not expect the same to save the sharks; the slow lorises; and Phuket's precious population of white-rumped shama birds? We all adore the dolphins, of course, but hey - this is a total non-issue when viewed in the context of saving Thailand itself.

Posted by Derek Hughes

Absolutely agree, Article 44 belongs in history, not as a tool for this kind of action. Unfortunately, it looks as if only we lowly westerners care about this issue and have no recourse whatsoever to prevent it. By law, foreigners cannot protest and any attempts to start a boycott can lead to the all-too-oft misused libel laws to shut us up. Maybe it's just time to boycott Thailand entirely.

Posted by The Night Mare July 19, 2015 10:01:50PM

Reply

7    10

7

Reading the comments so far, you'd be forgiven for thinking this forum is only viewable in the Ukraine, Russia or China.

Posted by agogohome July 19, 2015 07:00:55PM

Reply

12    14

6

This petition will go nowhere. As usual, it's a bunch of excited, sanctimonious, bleeding-heart farang leading the charge and trying to impose their values on a country quite entitled to its own.

Posted by Whoa July 19, 2015 06:44:43PM

Reply

11    15

5

While I appreciate the editors' concerns, I think using Article 44 to accomplish those ends is the wrong way to go. Pulling the Article 44 genie out of the bottle is asking for trouble.

Posted by Patrick Mattimore

Completely agree. And if we're going to see it invoked to save the dolphins, why would we not expect the same to save the sharks; the slow lorises; and Phuket's precious population of white-rumped shama birds? We all adore the dolphins, of course, but hey - this is a total non-issue when viewed in the context of saving Thailand itself.

Posted by Derek Hughes July 19, 2015 06:34:23PM

Reply

7    16

4

And so the PG endorses the use of facism in the service of thwarting a controversial, but probably legal, animal show. Where would the editors draw the line in the use of dictatorship? Anywhere?

Posted by matt July 19, 2015 11:34:12AM

Reply

9    24

3

Why are tigers ok? As in Tiger Kingdom. But dolphins are not okay? I don't like either, so no skin off my nose.

Posted by zib July 19, 2015 11:03:33AM

Reply

8    19

2

It appears it's going ahead on the grounds that it is legal. There are plenty of dolphinariums around the world that are legal, Australia for one. I'm not defending either argument, for or against. If it's going ahead, it must be legal and they have the right of compensation if it gets stopped.

Posted by skip July 19, 2015 10:56:12AM

Reply

3    41

1

While I appreciate the editors' concerns, I think using Article 44 to accomplish those ends is the wrong way to go. Pulling the Article 44 genie out of the bottle is asking for trouble.

Posted by Patrick Mattimore July 19, 2015 07:42:45AM

Reply

2    16

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