Dolphin Captivity Paper
SCIENTIFIC CHALLENGES TO CURRENT HUSBANDRY AND
MANAGEMENT PRACTICES AT DOLPHIN HOLDING FACILITIES
[Continued from Part 2]
Unless an effective alternative to operant conditioning and food deprivation can be found and used at institutions of close human/dolphin interaction, abolition of the use of man-made enclosures for those interactions would be the goal of most dolphin and animal protection groups.
Without objectively acquired raw data, scientific competition has been prevented at basic levels involving the captive dolphin industry. This situation has prevented scientific competitors (dolphin and animal protection groups?), with a different scientific philosophy, from reviewing current data defining problems with captive dolphins. Dolphin and animal protection groups want to stop the propaganda so that science can begin. As it is, many dolphin and animal protection groups would like to close down any facility of close human/dolphin interaction because of the captive dolphin industries negligence and abuse of captive cetaceans, abuse of scientific competition and abuse of regulated reporting (a process required under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Animal Welfare Act).
Ombudsdolphin and the Captivity Commission
There is a strong need for a position or positions in the MMPA bureaucracy that can act as agent or advocates for the cetaceans held captive by the captive dolphin industry. This position or positions would have to be appointed and/or confirmed by the de facto agents currently acting in the interests of captive cetaceans - the dolphin and animal protection groups. This could be as simple as requiring that 50 percent of the seats on the Marine Mammal Commission be filled in this manner or the creation of an ombudsdolphin. It may be necessary to create a captivity commission that would be similar to the Marine Mammal Commission, but deal only with the scientific investigation of captivity issues. This Captivity Commission could be subordinate or equal to the Marine Mammal Commission. The Captivity Commission could be as small as three positions, one member from marine mammal protection groups (confirmed by animal protection groups), one member from the captive dolphin industry (confirmed by the industry) and one independent cetacean researcher (confirmed by both industry and animal protection groups). The independent researcher should not have ever received funding from the Navy or a dolphin holding corporate or proprietary source.
If the office of the Ombudsdolphin was combined with the Captivity Commission, a process could be developed to get to the bottom of scientific questions about cetacean captivity. The Ombudsdolphin could receive inquiries from the public and dolphin and animal protection groups on captivity issues, screen or answer the inquiries, and submit unanswered inquiries to the Captivity Commission. The Ombudsdolphin would re-formulate the inquiries into a scientific format for presentation to the Captivity Commission. During commission meetings, the Ombudsdolphin presents the inquiries for
review and comment by members. All inquiries are either answered at the commission meeting after submission, or a member can investigate the issue further for presentation at the next meeting. If an inquiry cannot be answered in two meetings, an investigator is located and confirmed by the commission; or an investigative committee formed and confirmed, depending on the difficulty of the inquiry. Next a budget is developed and is forwarded to the Marine Mammal Commission for funding. If the Captivity Commission turns out to be a committee of the Marine Mammal Commission, the process is simplified, but inquiries may be locked up should the Marine Mammal Commission be slanted toward the Navy or captive dolphin industry.
The Captivity Commission must have access to all records and facilities of captive dolphin permit holders. The ability of the Ombudsdolphin to revoke permits, confiscate captive marine mammals and levy prohibitory fines will encourage scientific competition and compliance with the regulations concerning captive marine mammals.
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