The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on Wednesday made a proposal to ban swimming with Hawaii dolphins. The move could threaten one of Aloha State’s most popular tourist activities, and affect highly popular tour group practices that allow island visitors to get near the animals by boat or frolic with them in water.
Swimming with dolphins is popular with locals and tourists, with several companies on Oahu, the Big Island, Kauai and Maui operating dolphin tours every day. The National Marine Fisheries Service says the mammals are becoming stressed out as they as being deprived of rest during the day.
The Los Angeles Times notes that the proposed rule could shutter or immensely disrupt the industry that has sprung up around the popular tourist activity in Hawaii. It would forbid swimming with or approaching within 50 yards of the playful nocturnal species. That would mean the end of activities such as approaching the animals in a boat and snorkeling in the water with them.
An owner of Dolphin Discoveries in Kona said that the move “would be the end of legitimate dolphin swimming.” According to The New York Times, Ann Garrett from the National Marine Fisheries Service said that the agency thinks by identifying 50 yards as the minimum distance, there still can be a feasible tourist industry in Hawaii.
Garrett said that the federal science agency is concerned that the continuous disturbance can negatively affect the spinner dolphin’s health and reproductive success. She said that the agency hopes to protect the sustainability of the local population.
U.S. Federal officials are seeking to ban swimming with dolphins in Hawaii. The NOAA wants to prevent long-term negative effects on the animals. The move could potentially shut down the industry as the ban covers waters out to two nautical miles, which is where 98 percent of the island state’s dolphins rest after they have spent the night feeding.
Swimming with the aquatic marine mammals in the clear waters off the coast of Hawaii has long lured tourists. Feds however, think the activity is harmful to the dolphins when they are supposed to be socializing and resting. The nocturnal creatures hunt for shrimp, fish and squid in deep waters by night, and sleep during the day in shallow waters.
According to Mother Nature Network, the NOAA fisheries had originally considered imposing a 100-yard restriction, but changed it to 50 yards so as not to diminish the experience of dolphin watching. Some excursion operators say such regulations are long overdue, while others have railed against the proposed ban.
Feds have proposed a ban on the activity of approaching and swimming with Hawaii dolphins, fearing that the stress will harm the mammals’ ability to reproduce. The officials said that the animals have faced intense pressure in recent years from tourist activities that interrupt their resting time. The U.S. federal agency will reportedly consider public comment on the issue for two months and hold several community meetings before announcing a final decision. For more CDA News, follow our tweets on Twitter and like us on Facebook.
By Anila Maring