Today marks a significant step in our work to protect whales and dolphins in tourism. In February I announced that Virgin businesses will only continue to work with suppliers that pledge to no longer take sea mammals from the wild.
We agreed to release this Virgin Pledge by the end of September, and following extensive dialogue with non-profits and activists, scientists, tourism operators, and of course those running marine parks and aquaria, we are now ready to do so.
I feel strongly that this is a very positive development for the industry. Although many of our suppliers have not taken whales or dolphins from the wild for years, the Virgin Pledge seeks to build much-needed momentum to effectively end a brutal practice that continues to this day.
We also looked into the issue of ending captivity, which is a cause of great importance to many. We didn't find any easy answers, as simply releasing captive or captive-born cetaceans into the wild is currently not supported by most scientists concerned about the welfare of the animals. We will follow this debate very closely as it evolves.
In the last few weeks, our team has visited suppliers around the world to discuss critical issues and build support. We are releasing the names of those that have signed the Virgin Pledge on the Virgin Unite website today.
This is of course just the start of our journey. I am encouraged that Virgin Holidays have initiated a conversation that has education, conservation and the highest standard of care for these magnificent creatures at its heart.
We will also continue to champion other causes that advance ocean conservation, such as ending drive hunts and unregulated fisheries, or the creation of more marine protected areas.
And crucially, we will seek to engage others in the tourism industry to build further support for the protection and preservation of ocean wildlife. Business must be a force for good, and I hope that others will join us in sending a clear message that it is neither acceptable nor necessary to take whales and dolphins from the ocean.