Flipper, a dolphin playmate of two children in Florida, was one of the imaginary friends of my childhood. I saw him dive on a black and white television in the 1960s. When on my first ship trip, coming back from Mallorca with my parents, I saw a group of dolphins cutting the bow, I did not doubt for one moment that they were Flipper’ relatives and asked them to greet him.
A recent article (by Antonio Cerrillo, La Vanguardia, 15.01.2016) says that Mediterranean populations of these cetaceans are in clear decline. This occurs as a result of the residues of PCBs that are carried from land to sea. It is a manmade product which was widely used as an excellent electrical insulator and which, because of its toxicity, was already banned in 1977 in the United States.
To look at the pollution lasting effects revalues the precautionary principle set in environmental law. Established in article 191 of the Treaty on the functioning of the European Union, allows to prevent the market distribution of products which, on the basis of the available scientific data, may represent a risk to human, animal or plant health, without certainty on its scope. This limitative measure has to be proportionate to the target pursued and maintained long enough to sweep away the uncertainty. It is, in short, a legal formula that aims to provide security analysis and risk management.
In the preparation of this article, I knew that Flipper’s trainer campaigned for the release of dolphins since this – Flipper was actually a female – left herself to die, exhausted by training. In the absence of regulation equivalent to the human labor, you could also apply the precautionary principle. But… to what worry the dolphins, when migrant children drown every week in this same sea in front of our indifference?
However, I cannot imagine the children’ heaven without dolphins. From this paradise, children and dolphins remind us as the Encyclical Laudato Si, that everything is related. That the genuine care of our life and our relationship with nature is closely linked to Fraternity and Justice.
Enric R.Bartlett Castellà
Professor of Public Law at ESADE Business & Law School. Ramón Llull University
This article was published in Spanish and Catalan in » La Vanguardia» on March 6th 2016,p40