Earth Island Institute

ECO: The environmental voice at the IWC

ECO is published by Earth Island Institute’s International Marine Mammal Project at the meeting of the International Whaling Commission on behalf of environmental and animal welfare organizations around the globe.

For further information, please contact: Mark J. Palmer, Associate Director, Earth Island Institute, International Marine Mammal Project.

Previous volumes of ECO are available here.


Volume LXIV · Panama City, Panama · No. 1 · Monday July 2, 2012
Acrobat .pdf of issue

Swiss Ban on Import of Captive Dolphins

On May 29, 2012, the lower chamber of Switzerland decided to ban the importation of cetaceans to Switzerland—a decision that effectively ends any new captive whale and dolphin shows in the country. Moreover, the decision means that the three remaining dolphins in the last dolphin captivity facility in Switzerland may live out their days there, and no more dolphins will be brought in to replace them.

The decision for an import ban was taken after the deaths of eight dolphins during the last four years and followed the criticism and pressure by OceanCare and several other animal conservation organizations based in Switzerland, as well as international pressure from Ric O’Barry of Earth Island Institute and many other organizations.

The keeping of cetaceans in captivity cannot be justified from an animal welfare or species conservation point of view. A dolphinarium pool is too small, too shallow, too bare and lacking in environmental stimulation. Furthermore, the unnatural group structures is very stressful for dolphins held in captivity, making them susceptible to chronic disease, low life expectancy and a high mortality rate of any offspring born in captivity. Successful breeding in captivity is rare, and due to this fact dolphins are still captured from the wild for the international dolphinarium industry. These captures threaten the very survival of wild dolphin populations.