Na­tional Trust Stands Against Dol­phin Park De­vel­op­ment

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By Michele-Lau­ren Hack­shaw

The Saint Lu­cia Na­tional Trust has thus far hosted two ma­jor meet­ings this year con­cern­ing the lat­est project pro­pos­als for the is­land. The first and most pub­li­cized of th­ese meet­ings was held on Satur­day, March 11 at the Bay Gar­dens Ho­tel Bougainvil­lea Con­fer­ence Room where Dol­phin Dis­cov­ery in­vestors made an ap­pear­ance for a pre­sen­ta­tion about their busi­ness.

The com­pany rep­re­sen­ta­tives stated that the dol­phins would be un­der care twenty-four/seven, with ex­pe­ri­enced vet­eri­nar­i­ans as well as train­ers, and that the dol­phins would be fed “restau­rant qual­ity” food. They men­tioned that thirty to sev­enty jobs would be cre­ated in fields in­clud­ing ac­count­ing, wait­ress­ing, and trans­porta­tion (taxi and bus driv­ers). They also claimed that Saint Lu­cia would gain in­ter­na­tional recog­ni­tion through their com­pany be­ing on-is­land.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Dol­phin Dis­cov­ery told those who at­tended last week­end’s meet­ing that they also be­lieved in con­ser­va­tion and in work­ing closely with com­mu­ni­ties, and would pro­vide all items needed for the vol­un­tary work in which they en­gaged.

The com­pany takes pride in be­ing “the only com­pany that has an ed­u­ca­tional depart­ment”. A brief ex­pla­na­tion of this: one per­son - a mem­ber of the train­ing team - goes out vis­it­ing schools to ed­u­cate the stu­dents on the an­i­mals and con­ser­va­tion. As part of the ex­er­cise, they would then in­vite the stu­dents to the fa­cil­ity to swim with the dol­phins as well as of­fer­ing the op­por­tu­nity to un­der­priv­i­leged per­sons.

A mem­ber of the au­di­ence asked: “Are the dol­phins free to come and go as they please?” A Dol­phin Dis­cov­ery spokesman replied, “The dol­phins we have are born un­der hu­man care. They’re not al­lowed to come and go.”

The high­light of the meet­ing was when both mem­bers and non-mem­bers of the Saint Lu­cia Na­tional Trust made it bla­tantly clear to the de­vel­op­ers that their busi­ness is not wel­come in Saint Lu­cia, not on Pi­geon Is­land or any­where else on the is­land. One per­son even men­tioned pay­ing them off.

Once the de­vel­op­ers had ex­ited the room, there was a dis­cus­sion on ways that could put an end to the pro­posed dol­phin park. Mem­bers spoke about writ­ing to the de­vel­op­ment coun­cil stat­ing they had no in­ter­est in this fa­cil­ity.

Mem­bers of the Trust re­vealed that they have no clue what has been signed for the dol­phin park or the DSH projects. “We, the peo­ple of the coun­try, will not let you des­e­crate our pro­tected lands,” Trust mem­ber Lulu Ber­gasse de­clared.

Prime Min­is­ter Al­lan Chas­tanet has re­sponded to the pub­lic’s con­cerns by speak­ing with the me­dia about the pro­posed dol­phin park and what took place at Satur­day’s meet­ing. “I am dis­ap­pointed that any in­vestor would come to the coun­try and be treated the way the in­vestors were treated,” he stated.

He also men­tioned that his father, Michael Chas­tanet, had been part of an ear­lier group at­tempt­ing to in­sti­tute a dol­phin park in Saint Lu­cia but they had not been able to find a suit­able lo­ca­tion.

The PM ad­mit­ted he had sug­gested that the de­vel­op­ers con­sider Pi­geon Is­land af­ter real­iz­ing the dif­fi­cul­ties of es­tab­lish­ing a dol­phin park at Anse Jam­bette. He told the gath­ered me­dia:, “Pi­geon Is­land is a ma­jor as­set that is grossly un­der­uti­lized.”

Al­lan Chas­tanet made it clear that it is not for the Saint Lu­cia Na­tional Trust to de­cide whether the coun­try should have a dol­phin park; he stressed that the Trust should be more con­cerned about neg­a­tive en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact.

“Whether we have a dol­phin park or not is very much in line with our na­tional pol­icy. As you know, Saint Lu­cia is part of the Whal­ing As­so­ci­a­tion and we be­lieve in a sus­tain­able use of marine re­sources, so that is gen­er­ally the pol­icy that the gov­ern­ment has,” Prime Min­is­ter Chas­tanet stated.

Mem­bers of the Saint Lu­cia Na­tional Trust, and other con­cerned cit­i­zens, at last Satur­day’s meet­ing at Bay Gar­dens Ho­tel.

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