Feds propose ban on swimming with dolphins in Hawaii

Feds propose ban on swimming with dolphins in Hawaii
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Tourists would be prohibited from swimming with dolphins near Hawaii under a new proposal from the Obama administration.

The National Marine Fisheries Service proposed Tuesday to establish a 50-yard barrier that prevents people from getting too close to Hawaiian spinner dolphins, even though they are not listed as endangered or threatened species.

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This could affect tourism companies, including those that take people dolphin watching, as well as residents who attempt to swim, snorkel or kayak with Hawaiian spinner dolphins.

The agency blamed tourism operators for building up consumers' “expectation for close interactions with wild dolphins."

"The number of commercial operators engaged in wild dolphin viewing has grown dramatically in Hawaii in recent years, putting new pressures on easily accessible groups of resting Hawaiian spinner dolphins,” the agency wrote.

"In addition, a number of residents and visitors venture on their own, independent of commercial operators, to view and interact with spinner dolphins.”

Similar protections have been established for humpback whales.

The public has until Oct. 23 to comment.