Hawaii is proposing a ban on the tourist activity of swimming with dolphins off the Hawaiian coast. The dolphins have been a magnet for tourists over the past decades. However, officials say the tourism is harmful to the dolphins because they are supposed to be resting and socializing. The National Marine Fisheries Service proposes to prohibit swimming with, or approaching within 50 metres of, Hawaii's spinner dolphins. That would end many tour group activities, such as sailing alongside the dolphins in a boat and snorkeling with them.
Ann Garrett, from the National Marine Fisheries Service, said she didn't think the ban would have a big impact on Hawaii's tourist trade. She said: "We think that by identifying 50 metres as the minimum distance, there still can be a viable tourist industry." Tour operators disagreed. Tour company owner Kevin Merrill warned: "It would be the end of legitimate dolphin swimming. We couldn’t offer the people the quality interaction that they expect." Dolphins are most active at night and sleep and relax during the day. Garrett said the interaction affects the dolphins' health and fitness.