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28 November 2011, Monday
A meeting was held in the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and culture, with Diving Association of Maldives (DAM) and ECOCARE Maldives regarding the heated issue of developing a dolphin park in the Maldives.
Both NGO’s brought forward the issue of developing a dolphin park in the Maldives as a huge concern that would bring about a lot of negative impacts to the tourism industry, as well as the environment of the country.
DAM consists of mainly divers working in the tourism industry and as Ecocare is an environmental NGO, that consists of passionate environmental activists; One of our concern is that as dolphin excursions are one of the main tourist activities in the country, if such a development was to be undertaken, it could affect the current dolphin excursions that take place in most of the tourist resorts and reduce the amount of these excursion trips.
DAM and ECOCARE Maldives strongly stands against caging the dolphins and doing scientific research that are currently undergoing in different parts of the world. “The affects of bringing an alien species into the country is unknown and unpredictable” said Zoona, Dive Instructor and the current President of DAM. Issues such as dolphins committing suicide in captivity were raised in the meeting to raise the importance of not undertaking such a project.
Another issue raised during the meeting was the importance of preserving the major dive sites of Maldives. The government has planned to reclaim different lagoons in south Male’ atoll where the best dive sites of Maldives have been known. Destroying the species or an ecosystem at whole is not acceptable. If the government plans for future developments it should strictly consider the environment ahead of financial benefits.
Mariyam Zulfa, the Minister of Tourism, stated that, she is totally against the development of a dolphin park. However she said that it’s not only her decision and that the decision is made by the cabinet. Also she mentioned that there are many other projects that undermine the environment but rather look into the financial benefits undergoing in the country. After the meeting with Minister of Tourism by chance we met the Minister of Housing and Environment, Mohamed Aslam and when asked about the situation he mentioned that he is not willing to give a professional comment.