A Meeting with the Prime Minister of St. Maarten
By Ric O’Barry
I recently visited the lovely Dutch island of St. Maarten in the Caribbean, where I had the privilege of meeting directly with the Prime Minister Sarah Westcot-Williams and other government representatives to talk about captivity in dolphins and why St. Martens should ban such activity in their country. The meeting was arranged by our friends at Dolphin Defenders St. Maarten, one of the many grassroots activist groups around the world fighting for dolphins. Also included in the delegation that met with the Prime Minister were Tadzio Bervoets of St. Maarten Nature Foundation, Rueben Thompson of St. Maarten Pride Foundation and EPIC, and Kim Frye and Mercedes De Windt of Dolphin Defenders St. Maarten.
We urged PM Westcot-Williams to consider new legislation banning cetaceans in captivity, putting St. Maarten in the vanguard internationally in protecting dolphins. We also met with Education Minister Rhoda Arrindell and Tourism and Economic Affairs Minister Franklin Meyers.
“This draft law is not about being against something. Rather, proclaiming St Maarten a Dolphin Friendly Country is about being for something. It is for the future, for tourism, for the youth, for St. Maarten. If the youth of St Maarten get this law passed they will move on to bigger and better things, and St. Maarten will be the environmental star of the Caribbean,” I explained.
Dolphin Defenders St. Maarten has already gained 8,000 signatures on their petition for the government.
You can help the effort to protect dolphins in St. Maarten and set a precedent for other countries to follow by signing the petition:
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Ric O’Barry, Dolphin Project Founder & Director has worked on both sides of the captive dolphin issue, making him an invaluable asset in the efforts to end exploitation. He worked for 10 years within the dolphin captivity industry, and has spent the past 40 working against it.
In the 1960s, O’Barry was employed by the Miami Seaquarium, where he captured and trained dolphins, including the five dolphins who played the role of Flipper in the popular American TV-series of the same name. He also trained Hugo, the first orca kept in captivity east of the Mississippi. When Kathy, the dolphin who played Flipper most of the time, died in his arms, O’Barry realized that capturing dolphins and training them to perform silly tricks is simply wrong.
From that moment on, O’Barry knew what he must do with his life. On the first Earth Day, 1970, he launched a searing campaign against the multi-billion dollar dolphin captivity industry and has been going at it ever since.
Over the past 40 years, Ric O’Barry has rescued and rehabilitated dolphins in many countries around the world, including Haiti, Colombia, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Brazil, the Bahamas Islands and the United States. He is a leading voice in the fight to end brutal dolphin hunts in Japan, the Solomon Islands, the Faroe Islands, and wherever else they occur.
O’Barry has been recognized by many national and international entities for his dedicated efforts, such as being voted Huffington Post’s 2010 Most Influential Green Game Changer, and being listed on O Magazine’s 2010 Power List – Men We Admire for his “Power of Passion.” O’Barry received an Environmental Achievement Award, presented by the United States Committee for the United Nations Environmental Program. He has done countless interviews with such prestigious news programs as Larry King Live, Anderson Cooper 360, the Mike Huckabee Show, and the Oprah Winfrey Show.
His book Behind the Dolphin Smile was published in 1989; a second book, To Free A Dolphin was published in September 2000. Both of them are about his work and dedication. He is the star of the Academy Award-winning documentary The Cove and the Animal Planet television series Blood Dolphin$.