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In a vote this week, Mexico’s Chamber of Deputies approved an amendment to the country’s general wildlife law to “prohibit any marine mammal from being subjected to mining, whether subsistence or commercial.” The votes were 331 in favor and 17 against, of which 125 were absent. Under the guidance of the amendment, marine animals such as dolphins will not be subject to dolphin shows and shows of any kind that are still very popular in the tourist regions of the Riviera Maya, including Cancun.
Mexico’s General Wildlife Law: New Amendment
The wording of the amendment explains that marine mammals cannot be used by humans for any activity unless the use is for scientific research or conservation purposes. Specifically, “the use of specimens of marine mammals in fixed or itinerant shows, as well as in any activity whose purpose is not scientific research for their conservation is prohibited”.
Furthermore, the amendment extends to the ban on the extraction of animals for reproductive purposes: “Owners must ensure the conservation of marine mammals in optimal conditions of dignified and respectful treatment until their death”, continues the reform.
Those who break the law will be subject to heavy penalties.
250 dolphins kept in captivity in Quintana Roo alone
MEPs in favor of the amendment explained that dolphins, used in shows throughout Quintana Roo, are among the most exploited and used marine mammals.
According to local reports, over 250 dolphins are currently in captivity in Quintana Roo region alone, which accounts for nearly 10% of the 3,000 inmates worldwide.
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There are so many used in the region because dolphin use is a highly profitable business and brings in hundreds of thousands of dollars per animal.
An MP from the Mexican political party Morena estimated that there are about 450 mammals (marine and non-marine) in captivity in Quintana Roo alone, all of which are used for entertainment purposes.
The amendment questions the ethics of animal performance
Dolphin shows, including experiences where tourists can swim with the creatures, are very popular throughout Quintana Roo.
From the Dolphin Discovery experience in Tulum, Isla Mujeres, and Punta Aventuras, and more, vacationers from the United States and beyond flock to the Mexican Caribbean to interact with these mammals. Experiences at some of Cancun’s most popular resorts include activities like “dolphin encounters”. This new amendment, however, calls into question the ethics of such activity.
Some of the MEPs supporting the amendment argued that dolphins in confinement work long hours, are trained for such work, experience a high degree of stress related to such activities and are forced to live in “unnatural” environments.
A deputy, Gabriela Sodi, argued that “animals should be seen as beings that must be treated and respected, in a dignified way, to preserve and be faithful to their moral responsibility. They are sentient beings, so captive mammals face a different reality than their natural environment. “
What happens next?
Since the amendment was only voted on last week, the new amendment will then pass to the Mexican Senate. Under the country’s parliamentary system, Mexico’s Chamber of Deputies is the lower house of Congress, while the other chamber is the Senate.
Mexico won’t be the first country to create laws to protect marine mammals. Nations such as Chile, Canada, India, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, France and Slovenia have all banned the capture and use of dolphins for entertainment purposes. Some restrictions on “dolphinaria” already exist in Mexico, as well as in the United States, Switzerland, Australia and Indonesia.
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