(NaturalNews) The International Marine Mammal Project (IMMP) and Ric O'Barry's Dolphin Project are supporting efforts to enact a law in Romania to declare dolphins as nonhuman persons in order to enhance their protections in the Black Sea.
Romanian MP Remus Cernea presented the draft on Feb 4 2014 to the Romanian parliament along with support letters from NGOs. The law seeks to declare individual dolphins as nonhuman persons and to accord them the rights to life, bodily integrity, right to free movement and right to be protected in their natural environment.
"Dolphins deserve the right to live their lives, free, in the ocean. They currently do not have that right. That needs to change," says Ric O'Barry, director ofDolphin Project and star of the Oscar-winning documentary The Cove. "I fully support Cernea's draft law to get personhood for dolphins. And I encourage other nations to join India and Romania in affording personhood rights to dolphins."
Cernea first expressed his concern over the dolphin drive hunting and slaughters in Taiji, Japan, when a pod of over 250 individuals were driven into the cove, including one albino dolphin named Angel by O'Barry and one of Dolphin Project's Cove Monitors. In an open letter to Japan's prime minister Shinz? Abe and other members of Parliament, Cernea called for an end to the brutal practice.
The law echoes anhistoric statement made by Indian Ministry of Environment and Forests that dolphins should be considered nonhuman persons, a campaign spearheaded by Earth Island's Dolphin Project and other organizations. The law is similar to efforts in the US to accord personhood rights for chimpanzees.
Cernea cites dolphin's high intelligence and similarities with humans as reasons for their deserving rights. "Dolphins behave towards people as if they would follow...noble human morals," he said in his statement.
"Just as important as increasing legal protections for dolphins is shifting our commonly held views about them", says Laura Bridgeman of Dolphin Project. "Our treatment of dolphins has yet to catch up with what we now know, scientifically, about these beings. Any attempt to gain personhood for dolphins is important because it furthers the public debate about this important issue."
There is at least one captive dolphin facility currently in Romania. Romania borders on the Black Sea, an area with a rich dolphin population. But Russia and Turkey have been active in removing dolphins for captivity, condemning dolphins to a life in small tanks doing tricks for tourists for dead fish.