St. John’s, ANTIGUA – A poignant reminder that people with purpose are powerful is one of the central themes in Dolphin Dilemma – The Antigua and Barbuda Story, a new documentary produced by HAMAFilms Antigua for the Antigua and Barbuda Independent Tourism Promotion Corporation (ABITPC).
Set in 2004, Dolphin Dilemma – the Antigua and Barbuda Story shows how a small NGO, the Antigua and Barbuda Independent Tourism Promotion Corporation (ABITPC) led the fight to save the dolphins at “Dolphin Fantaseas” and ban the capture of these intelligent mammals in national waters.
The documentary which made its world premiere on Wednesday, May 9 at the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda features world-renowned Dolphin activists Ric O’Barry and Dr Naomi Rose, entertainment TV personality Robin Leach and former Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer. It captures the series of events over a 12-month period that literally shook the twin island state and turned the people from villains to heroes in the eyes of the international, regional and local media.
With the interest in dolphinariums growing and with almost 30 currently in operation across the Caribbean and Central America, Dolphin Dilemma: The Antigua & Barbuda Story hopes to serve as a cautionary tale of just what is at stake in pursuit of tourism dollars.
Executive producer and one of ABITPC founders, renowned diver and marine activist, Martha Watkins-Gilkes, said this was the right time to tell this story and educate a new generation who are more environmentally aware. “Dolphin prostitution” as she dubbed it, continues to be a lucrative business model but the damage to the water mammals, the environment and communities outweighs the profits to a few.
The film highlights the devastation caused by the investors and how it affected other businesses nearby. It recounts the legal journey lead by lawyer John Fuller, to get the government of the day to retract a request to harvest dolphins from the waters surrounding the island.
Marine Biologist Dr Naomi Rose said dolphins and whales are still forced to perform because they are high-ticket tourism attractions. However, in the film she outlines the reasons why the agreements to come into a territory also includes rights to capture dolphins regularly.
Watkins-Gilkes said during a Q&A following the film’s premiere that small island states are very susceptible to these kinds of operations as the investors over promise but always underdeliver and in the process ruins communities. She called the making of the documentary a labor of love shared with equally passionate environmentalists. The activist believes this is just part of a larger story of the issues of dolphins in captivity in the Caribbean. A story she wants to tell on as many platforms and mediums as possible.
Dolphin Dilemma – The Antigua and Barbuda Story is produced by the award-winning HaMa Productions, directed by Howard Allen and produced by Mitzi Allen. It has taken a year to produce, as Mitzi Allen explains: “Although this event happened 14 years ago, we are very fortunate that many of the leading players were willing and able to recount their memory of this event. We believe that this documentary will serve as a timely reminder as to why islands like ours should not accept investment at any cost. It will also remind our viewers that when communities band together they can force positive change.”