Secretary Roque’s insensitive flaunting of patronage to marine wildlife captivity

July 3, 2020

Environmental group Earth Island Institute (EII) in the Philippines strongly criticizes Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque’s flaunting of his patronage to Ocean Adventure in Subic, Zambales amid existing community quarantine policies.

“There are businesses, most especially small and micro enterprises, that require the much needed boost and support from government. But instead, Secretary Roque seems to be favoring big businesses that support captive animal entertainment,” said Mark Louie Aquino, Earth Island Institute Campaign Spokesperson in the Philippines.

In the Philippines, there are a number of treaties and laws on the protection if endangered marine mammals: the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), an international treaty which the Philippines is a signatory and the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act 8550 (Fisheries Code of the Philippines) as amended by Republic Act 10654. Section 102, Fishing or Taking of Rare, Threatened or Endangered Species, paragraph (b), states that It shall be unlawful to fish, take, catch, gather, sell, purchase, possess, transport, export, forward or ship out aquatic species listed in CITES Appendices II and III if scientific assessments show that population of the species in the wild cannot remain viable under pressure of collection and trade.

“The Bottlenose Dolphins which Secretary Roque was touching in Ocean Adventure’s facility are included in Appendix II of CITES,” said Aquino. “Another question still unanswered is how Ocean Adventure manages to operate despite the fact that it is illegal to possess dolphins under Philippine laws.”

Earth Island Institute in the Philippines has been very vocal over captive marine mammals. Over the past years, EII unceasingly calls out Ocean Adventure to heed the appeal to free all its captive dolphins. Since 2005, five (5) bottlenose dolphins, one sea lion and “Tonka”, the last false killer whale, have died in the facility. This is why the group sees Secretary Roque’s stunt as insensitive and mere abetting of the captive Industry.

“We must bear in mind that the very reason for the emergence of the global pandemic like COVID-19 is the continued profiteering of companies from wildlife trade and animal captivity. We urge the government to revoke the operating permit of Ocean Adventure, hold Secretary Roque to account, and free the remaining dolphins and marine mammals in the facility immediately. The ‘new, sustainable normal’ must now be to keep wild animals in the wild.” ends Aquino.

Statement by the Earth Island Institute Philippines