Proposed dolphin facility at Pigeon Island not good for St. Lucia’s image, says Devaux family

By SNO Staff
Pigeon Island

Pigeon Island

In an open letter, dated Feb. 23, 2017 to Prime Minister Allen Chastanet, on the 38th anniversary of the opening of the Pigeon Island National Park, the Devaux family has called on Chastanet to stop the proposed dolphin facility at Pigeon Island.

The family said this commercial activity will destroy the “essence” of Pigeon Island and the negative publicity surrounding the captivity of the dolphins will not be good for St. Lucia’s image.

The letter made reference to an ongoing petition (CLICK HERE) that has to date attracted almost 9,000 signatures.

According to the petition site, a group of investors is on island discussing a proposal to keep dolphins in captivity at Pigeon Island. The proposal includes the construction of a restaurant, gift shop, and swimming pool on Pigeon Island, which may result in the desecration of the military cemetery and who knows how much more damage to Pigeon Island National Landmark, the site states.

“This ill-conceived idea is not in keeping with the St. Lucia National Trust mandate to preserve and protect our national heritage and must not be allowed to proceed,” the site added.

Below is the entire open letter to the prime minister:

Dear Mr. Chastanet:

On behalf of the Devaux family, like-minded St. Lucians, and thousands of petitioners (almost 7,000 at last count), we respectfully request that you stop the proposed dolphin facility at Pigeon Island.

This type of commercial activity will do nothing to enhance the natural beauty or historic charm of the park. Pigeon Island National Landmark is part of Robert J. Devaux’s legacy and part of this nation’s heritage. As a National Landmark, it must be preserved and protected.

What Robert envisioned for Pigeon Island was a green space steeped in history to be enjoyed by his children and their children and all St. Lucians for generations to come. This became a reality on 23 February 1979, when two years of hard work by Robert and his team culminated in the official opening of St. Lucia’s first national park. Most St. Lucians then didn’t know what a national park was. Most St. Lucians now don’t remember a time when Pigeon Island National Park didn’t exist.

As Founding Director of the St. Lucia National Trust, Robert worked for all St. Lucians of past, present, and future generations: young and old, educated and uneducated, enlightened and yet to be enlightened. He tried to protect our history, culture, and natural resources from short-sighted exploitation, because he believed that preserving our heritage is vital to our long-term survival as a cohesive nation and a tourism destination. This is how he put it:
Our heritage is what defines us and connects us. When we lose sight of that, we lose our self-respect and our respect for each other. When we turn our back on our heritage – through the neglect or destruction of what makes us unique – we stop evolving as a nation (RJD).

Your vision for St. Lucia is different and we respect that. You envisage beautifying Castries, developing what’s left of Pigeon Island causeway, expanding Rodney Bay Village, and rebuilding Hewanorra Airport: all worthwhile projects in areas where your ideas can be transformative. But the few remaining unspoiled pockets of natural beauty designated as National Landmarks or protected areas must be preserved intact.

To continue to compete as a tour destination, we have to set ourselves apart by offering something that no other destination has. A dolphin facility does not distinguish us (Dolphin Discovery alone has at least 20 facilities around the Caribbean basin). The only thing we have that makes us unique is our heritage: our natural heritage of mountains, beaches, and landmarks; and our cultural heritage of history, customs, and people. Without that heritage to differentiate us, visitors would have NO REASON to choose St. Lucia over any other island. Pigeon Island, with its scenic beauty and rich history and archaeology, is an iconic symbol of our heritage and is too important to St. Lucia’s identity to be compromised. This is the reason it was designated a National Landmark.

When defenders of the proposed dolphin facility claim that it won’t destroy Pigeon Island, they are taking the accusation too literally. Of course, Pigeon Island will still exist: the park – or what’s left of it – will still be there. But the proposed facility will destroy the essence of Pigeon Island: it will interrupt the tranquillity, the unspoiled beauty, and the ambience. Pigeon Island has an energy that feeds the soul, but because you can’t measure that or put a price on it, it is easily dismissed. As a nation in crisis, we should be trying to elevate the rest of St. Lucia to be more like Pigeon Island, instead of trying to diminish Pigeon Island to make it more like everywhere else.

To address the animal rights issue, keeping dolphins in captivity is inhumane. Worldwide public opinion has turned against tours that feature captive wild animals. Leading tour companies like TripAdvisor and Virgin Holidays have pledged to stop selling this type of tour as a result of pressure from animal advocacy groups.

The negative publicity surrounding the proposed facility at Pigeon Island will not be good for St. Lucia’s image. It’s not a question of whether or not travellers will boycott St. Lucia, it’s a question of how many will do so. In the worst case, an organized boycott by an international animal welfare organization could tarnish our reputation and hurt our tourism industry.

Finally, we know that job creation is of paramount importance. The St. Lucia National Trust has projects lined up that, if approved, would create at least as many jobs as the dolphin project. Additionally, there are entrepreneurial St. Lucians with ideas for tourism-related products who, if given the same concessions and rubber stamping that foreign investors enjoy, could start businesses that create a lot more than the 22 to 28 permanent jobs promised by the dolphin facility.

Thank you for considering all St. Lucians, including the generations to come.

Sincerely,
The Devaux Family

(49)(2)
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33 comments

  1. No to Dolphin captivity. It is a life prison for these animals - a small bay is not substitute for their normal environment. Set up a business to send out observation boats to see the animals in their natural environments instead if need be, out in the wide open seas

    (0)(0)
  2. anne-from-England

    Please do not do this.... Many visitors to St Lucia love it for its natural attractions and environment. The dolphins should be in the sea free to swim wild. That is where they belong.

    I will no longer recommend St Lucia to my friends.

    (3)(0)
  3. TROPICALTRUMP FOR 30YEARS!

    EXPLAIN TO ME WHY THE DEVEAUXS HAVE SUCH A HUGE VOICE THAT THEY CAN CALL ON THE PRIME MINISTER TO DO SOMETHING AND THE CHILDREN OF FORMER SLAVES COME TO THEIR BACKING. YOU ONLY GET TO HAVE OPINIONS WHEN YOU CAN EAT....WE NEED FIVE DOLPHIN PARKS INCLUDING ONE IN THE REPUBLIC OF LABOURIE!

    (0)(5)
  4. All DA land devau have around st Lucia give the government a piece.devau and dem eh say sorry about slavery yet but they lookin to protect devau legacy

    (7)(5)
  5. How can I get to sign that petition?

    (6)(2)
    • http://www.thepetitionsite.com/249/031/518/say-no-to-quotdolphin-encounterquot-at-pigeon-island/?taf_id=34250701&cid=fb_na#bbfb=584992552

      (1)(3)
  6. Wayyyyy massayyy . Wam to them fellas, so many other places in Lucia that need some sort of tourist attraction , fellas insist on putting everything up north . The north is not the only place in Lucia . Why can't y'all put that project somewhere on the west coast or east coast ?

    (11)(3)
  7. No aquaprisons wanted anywhere on the planet please.
    https://www.change.org/p/seaworld-australia-please-tell-seaworld-that-we-demand-the-closure-of-their-foul-aquaprison-dolphins-forced-to-do-tricks-in-swimming-pools-it-s-time-to-say-no-to-animal-cruelty-in-all-forms

    (11)(2)
  8. Dolphins are intelligent mammals. There is no way that we should be even considering such a barbaric project in order for a few wealthy people to make more money. Enclosing wild animals will almost inevitably cause stress and physical harm to these them. If people wish to see dolphins, let them see them in their natural habitat from boats piloted by knowledgeable and caring operators.
    Send the proposers home immediately - they have failed in St Kitts (I think) now they see Mr Chastenet selling off the family silver so they hope he is a pushover. Sooner or later St Lucia has to find another way of making its way in the world, other than selling itself off to foreign ínvestors so they can export their profits while they pay measly wages to the menial 'slaves' that pass for employees.

    (39)(3)
  9. They are selling us out left, right and center. Leave them unopposed, foreigners will occupy all our beaches.

    (9)(1)
  10. The island is for sale. WE the people must ensure that them don't sell us with it.

    (9)(2)
  11. I didnt vote for dat ehh!

    (16)(2)
  12. This is nuts.

    (11)(2)
  13. I hope that the government takes the advice of the Devaux family seriously and implements the suggestions that they have made....As i travel this world it is evident that destroying or "transforming" our natural heritages,for tourism purposes, does not result, holistically, in an improved lifestyle for the people through the economies that depend on tourism but rather ,inclusively,serves to encourage to a large degree,poverty of a type that includes the consequences that the open letter to the Prime minister on the proposed Dolphin project so correctly, though briefly, points out.
    you can bet your bottom dollar that our island will suffer quite a bit if our government authorizes any project that practices cruelty to animals,or other life forms, and keeps them in captivity for financial and other reasons.

    (21)(2)
  14. Why didn't you include "The Pearl of the Caribbean" for VFort, in the PMs vision for St Lucia? Is there a tag team at work?

    (5)(1)
  15. Wow, is no place sacred in Saint Lucia anymore?

    (13)(2)
  16. Isn't a National Heritage supposed to be a protected area?

    (16)(2)
  17. what is wrong with that chastanet man? first you sold st. lucia for nothing under CIP.
    Then you sold them to the chinese for 1 dollar.
    next you want a stupid dolphin park. that is animal cruelty mister. not tourism. people dont leave seaworld
    and come to see dolphine in st lucia in a cage. what stupid business ideas you coming up with again?

    (15)(4)
  18. As a progressive, I believe that this matter is serious enough, in addition to our acquiescence and tacit support for Japanese whaling, to give this one the cold shoulder. A go-ahead would mean that the government and the people are two-faced, and fork-tongued, talking on both sides of their mouths on matters concerning the environment.

    (2)(2)
  19. Yes man, I support that letter. Why don't they bend back to give poor st Lucian investors the same treatment they give to foreigners

    (2)(2)
  20. Ignorant St. Lucian

    Wanna swim with the freakin' dolphins! What nonsense these entitled talking about? We elect people to speak on our behalf. If you guys had it your way we would still be shackled. At least this can drive traffic to a scarcely visited landmark.

    (2)(16)
  21. These guys appear so desperate... they are willing to compromise all that St. Lucia is known for to get investments no matter how desasterous it might be to the fabric of our country. Such shortsightedness could have consequences far beyond our existence and those of our kids. You would think by now that governments would understand that desperate actions leads to negative outlooks most of the time.

    (13)(2)
  22. It is truly a sad day when, in 2017 we even dare to think of building a facility to hold dolphins captive on our shores. Sorry to say, but I think that the PM is so blinded by money that he has failed to look at the whole picture. That will make us famous! Or rather infamous. I am not a big fan of PETA, however they would have us for breakfast, and be justified in doing so. The Prime minister seems to have forgotten that we are a tourism destination, mostly because of our natural beauty. This is just disturbing, there is nothing natural or beautiful about keeping dolphins caged.

    (10)(1)
  23. Wayyyy massayyy.wam to them fellas , the amount of other places Lucia have with little to no tourist attraction. Why not develop that project in the west coast or somewhere on the east coast, fellas just insist is Castries everything must happen smh Castries is not the only place in st Lucia , st Lucia is an Island for crying out loud.

    (3)(1)
  24. i second that letter

    (4)(2)
  25. Very, very, bad idea. It's definitely a race to the bottom. What's next, a nuclear dumping ground?

    (6)(2)
  26. you all the devaux family, cannot stop nothing, you all too greedy, the most greedy ritch family in st.lucia, one little bus shelter some forign people was puting on the busstop just infront of you'll pack, near the cross over next to m&c vide boutelle,, you'll just call you'll crew to mashup the thing where you'll own staff can shelter if rain, you'll distroyed it, and ran an put you'll fence therer,, you'll not too dam greedy,, i hope you'll go with a big peace of land when you'll die, too dam greedy for ritch people, how much money you'll contributing to clean there, nothing, so mr pm go ahead and do your project,

    (1)(6)
  27. Are you also supporting that same national trust that is trying to stop The Pearl of the Caribbean in VFort.

    (1)(5)
  28. We're No FOOLS, SLP

    Would the Trust lined up projects jobs generate revenue? You should have given some examples.

    (3)(4)
  29. We're No FOOLS, SLP

    "To address the animal rights issue, keeping dolphins in captivity is inhumane"

    There are "swimming with the dolphins" all over the world. It wont make St Lucia different from others but this will be an added attraction, like zip-lining which is also all over the Caribbean.

    Not promoting it by travel agents doesn't really matter cause i agree that most people do not travel because of swimming with the dolphins but it makes a vacation more attractive.

    I agree that consideration should be given to the location but totally disagree with the idea of keeping dolphins in captivity is inhumane. That is so hypocritical. We slaughter them.

    (2)(11)
    • Whales and dolphins are suited for the vast oceans and seas. They are made to be in their natural environments, not doing silly tricks for your amusement. They have emotions and a fairly developed brain. As a matter of fact, public opinion is turning against keeping big sea life in captivity...in case you are not paying attention. That value is going the way of wife-beating. The final disrespect is wanting to put that crap in our national park. I say to heck with people who have no national pride.

      (6)(1)
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