Captive dolphins will no longer be commercially bred or imported into the state of NSW after new regulations were introduced.
The rules, introduced by NSW environment minister Matt Kean today, followed an upper house inquiry into dolphin parks and circuses, and will see dolphin shows disappear from the state.
The move has been hailed by Animal Justice Party MP Emma Hurst, who served as deputy chair of the inquiry. She said the industry is now “effectively done and dusted” in NSW.
“After so many years of allowing exploitation, it’s encouraging that NSW is listening to experts and the community, and finally catching up with the global movement to protect these animals,” she said.
“The writing is on the wall – these animals were not born to perform. They do not exist for our entertainment.
“They deserve a life worth living, and NSW has recognised this with these new regulations.”
Last dolphin park in NSW 'happy' with new rules
Village Roadshow’s Sea World is located on the Gold Coast within the state of Queensland and will not be directly affected by the ruling.
NSW has one remaining dolphinarium, Dolphin Marine Conservation Park (DMCP), located in Coffs Harbour, which currently houses three dolphins, Zippy, Bella and Jet, all of which were born in captivity.
DMCP's general manager Terry Goodall told Yahoo News Australia he had "no issue" with the rule changes as the park had no plans to import or breed dolphins in future.
"I'm quite happy with the intent of the legislation," Mr Goodall said.
"It's clearly aimed at us, and we have three dolphins that we can't release that we're looking after until they die.
"They are fantastic ambassadors for their species."
Mr Goodall said the park is working towards relocating their dolphins to a sea sanctuary, and would welcome any government assistance to do so.
He said he hopes any future changes do not hinder their ability to house dolphins which are injured and cannot be released.
World reacts to NSW law on captive dolphins
The new regulations have been welcomed by dolphin campaigners around the world including Diane Fraleigh from Ontario Captive Animal Watch, a group which lobbied to create similar legislation in Canada.
"We are proud of what we achieved and it is fantastic to see others protecting cetaceans too," Ms Fraleigh said.
"We welcome NSW into the fold of those who truly care about their whales and dolphins."
New Zealand cetacean expert Dr Ingrid Visser, who made a submission to the inquiry, told Yahoo News Australia that she wanted to acknowledge everyone who played a part in the legislation including government, NGOs and the general public.
“It’s incredible news,” Dr Visser said.
“NSW is now on the right side of history and making history at the same time!”
Dolphin Project founder Ric O'Barry said he had spent a "great deal of time and energy" campaigning in Australia, and that the news was excellent.
"It's been a long time coming," he said.
"I'm thrilled at the news."
Do you have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.