Joko Widodo: Please Move the Management of Dolphins to the Ministry of Fisheries.

President of Indonesia, Joko Widodo

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Last month, in June 2018, Dolphin Project’s team in Indonesia went to the offices of the Ministry of State Secretariat. A meeting was arranged with the Advisor of the President, “Mr. H.” at one of the presidential palaces – the purpose, to discuss the country’s horrific dolphin traveling circuses.

For hours we presented fact after fact: the dolphins were all wild-caught, were being abused under the guise of education and were suffering gravely at the hands of the circus owners. We explained that permits for these circuses were provided by the central Ministry of Environment and Forestry.

“Mr H.” could not deny that there are some ‘questionable’ individuals within the forestry department who want the traveling circuses to keep running. Despite Dolphin Project presenting a detailed dossier of criminal activities uncovered, no resolution took place at the time.

We have held dozens of meetings throughout the past few years with various governmental offices and businesses in Indonesia, all of which have the power to stop this cruelty. These include:

· Ministry of Fisheries

· Ministry of Education

· Local governmental offices and venues, including supermarkets, malls and parking lots where the roadshows operate

· Local and national police

· Indonesia Embassy in the Netherlands, UK., USA, Belgium and Germany

Yet at each meeting, the feedback remains the same: The Ministry of Environment and Forestry is responsible for providing the permits to the traveling circuses, thus, the abuse suffered by the mammals is justified in the name of “education”. In addition:

· The Indonesian law on biodiversity is being violated and ignored.

· The suffering of animals and the traveling circuses’ blatant form of “mis-education” is being ignored.

· Traveling circuses perpetuate the trafficking and slaughter of dolphins.

And herein lies the problem: The Ministry of Fisheries, NOT the the Ministry of Environment and Forestry should be responsible for the management of dolphins.

Two years ago in 2016, the Ministry of Fisheries took over the management for most marine life, including sea turtles and whales. Dolphins however, remained under the Ministry of Environment and Forestry – a mismatch for presumed economic reasons. The traveling circuses are profitable, thus, for the past decade, have been legalized by this ministry.

It’s imperative that Indonesia’s dolphins be protected before it is too late. Ten years of wild dolphin captures without oversight have surely had a huge impact on (wild) populations. And they continue today, albeit in a more secretive manner, due to their exposure by Dolphin Project and local activists. In December 2017, two dolphins destined for the traveling circuses were seized, with one mammal successfully released into her home range but many more are captured in secret.

When people learn about the traveling circuses they are shocked and outraged, especially when they realize they continue today. At our last meeting, we were told the circuses have received new operating permits (presumably from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry) and that it would be difficult to halt their operations.


Update: Dolphin Project just heard back from the presidential staff, indicating they are sending a letter of concern to the Ministry of Environment and Forestry regarding the traveling circuses.

In light of all we know about Indonesia’s dolphin trade, we ask the President of Indonesia, Mr. Joko  Widodo to move dolphins from under the management of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry to the Ministry of Fisheries. We are encouraged that some progress has been made, including the closure of Wake Bali Dolphin, a swim-with-dolphins tourist attraction which had its permits revoked. But until proper protection is received, dolphins will continue to suffer.

Petition by
Ric O'Barry
Miami, Florida
Sponsored by

To: President of Indonesia, Joko Widodo
From: [Your Name]

The Ministry of Fisheries, NOT the the Ministry of Environment and Forestry should be responsible for the management of dolphins.

Two years ago in 2016, the Ministry of Fisheries took over the management for most marine life, including sea turtles and whales. Dolphins however, remained under the Ministry of Environment and Forestry – a mismatch for presumed economic reasons. The traveling circuses are profitable, thus, for the past decade, have been legalized by this ministry.

It’s imperative that Indonesia’s dolphins be protected before it is too late. Ten years of wild dolphin captures without oversight have surely had a huge impact on (wild) populations. And they continue today, albeit in a more secretive manner, due to their exposure by Dolphin Project and local activists. In December 2017, two dolphins destined for the traveling circuses were seized, with one mammal successfully released into her home range but many more are captured in secret.

When people learn about the traveling circuses they are shocked and outraged, especially when they realize they continue today. At our last meeting, we were told the circuses have received new operating permits (presumably from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry) and that it would be difficult to halt their operations.