Maui bans whale and dolphin exhibits

Maui, Hawaii's County Council voted unanimously last Friday to ban the captive display of whales and dolphins. In support of the bill, introduced more than a year ago, Maui County Council member Jo Anne Johnson wrote: "We have the ocean as our natural dolphinarium". At Friday's hearing, she noted that: "this matter has received more public support than any other matter in the history of Maui County".

More than 15,000 petition signatures and hundreds of letters have been received by Maui County Council on this issue, urging the Council to reject a proposed dolphinarium in Maui and ban the keeping of any captive marine mammals on Maui.

The bill passed by Council states that the "Council finds that cetaceans (dolphins and whales) are highly intelligent - and highly sensitive - marine mammals. The Council further finds the presence of cetaceans in the Pacific Ocean surrounding Maui County provides many cultural, spiritual, and economic benefits to the County's residents. The Council also finds that the exhibition of captive cetaceans leads to distress living conditions for these animals. Therefore, the purpose of this ordinance is to prohibit the exhibition of captive cetaceans (dolphins and whales)."

Under the approved bill, it is unlawful to exhibit captive cetaceans on Maui. Any person who violates this law shall be guilty of a misdemeanour, and upon conviction shall be fined not more than $1,000 or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

Maui joins 17 other cites and counties across the US that have banned the display of cetaceans, including the state of South Carolina.

Maui is world-renowed for its humpback whale-watching and is the home of the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Many different species of small cetacean can also be seen off shore, including spinner, bottlenose, spotted and rough-toothed dolphins, and pilot and false killer whales.

Full story: Environment News Service