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.