04/11/07 On the Prohibition of Captivating Dolphins in Croatia

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Ministry of Culture
Nature Protection Directorate
Mr. Zoran Sikic
Savska cesta 41/20
10000 Zagreb

Dear Mr. Sikic,

We would like to thank you for forwarding the reply to our inquiry regarding the request for permission to import dolphins for the dolphinarium that was to be built at Vodnjan.

Given the fact that Croatia has signed the Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans of the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and Contiguous Atlantic Area (ACCOBAMS), the International Whaling Commission, and the Berne, Barcelona, Bonn, and CITES conventions, as well as the fact that dolphins are a protected species in Croatia, Animal Friends now demands that the Croatian law should unambiguously prohibit the keeping dolphins or any other species of sea mammals from the cetacea family in captivity under any circumstances.

Concerning the numerous attempts to build a dolphinaria on the territory of Croatia, as well as the recent plan for a dolphinarium in the vicinity of Vodnjan, on which the Nature Protection Directorate issued a written statement on March 27, 2007, we are of the opinion that a legal act should be passed as soon as possible. By passing such an act and prohibiting the construction of any dolphinaria, Croatia would unambiguously define its standpoint as a dolphin-friendly country.

Croatia can be proud of its dolphin reserve nearby Mali Losinj, which is unique in the Mediterranean. Along with the aforementioned signing of conventions, this can be considered a valid basis and a solid argument for passing such a manifest legal prohibition or regulation. It would also be in accordance with the current Animal Protection Act, Regulation on the Requirements for the Establishment and Operation of Zoological Gardens, and other legal acts and regulations.

By passing such an act and prohibiting the construction of all dolphinaria – for example, by modifying the Regulation on the Requirements for Possession, Identification, and Documentation of Protected Wildlife in Captivity – Croatia would deserve the reputation of a country that protects the dolphins and would be commended around the world as a "dolphin-friendly country."

For the sake of its sea and its free, rigorously protected dolphins, Croatia should express its attitude against captivating dolphins clearly and unambiguously, thus building its reputation worldwide.

Since the United Nations have proclaimed 2007 the "Year of the Dolphin" and since this year's meeting of ACCOBAMS is taking place in October in Dubrovnik, Animal Friends believe that the prohibition act should be passed as soon as possible.

Attached please find a copy of the Australian law on captivating dolphins and whales, hoping that it might be of help in formulating a similar prohibition act in Croatia.

For any further questions we are at your disposal, as well as for all future cooperation. Animal Friends will do its best in promoting your positive decision in the mass media, both in Croatia and abroad through its contacts.

We are looking forward to hearing from you and I remain with best regards,

Luka Oman
Animal Friends

Reply from Ministry of Culture

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