Live shipment of dolphins continues, despite NGO outrage Published: 18 October, 2007
TWENTY-EIGHT live bottlenose dolphins have been flown to Dubai, despite protests
Two aircraft left the Solomons late yesterday for the 30-hour flight,
during which the dolphins would be looked after with “great care”, said Robert Satu, a director of the export company, Solomon Islands Marine Mammal Education Centre and Exporters Ltd.
As the mammals were being loaded, three dead dolphins were said to have been located near the firm’s holding pens outside the Solomons’ capital, Honiara.
The partly decomposed bodies of the dolphins – including a calf – had
been reportedly ripped open, apparently by stray dogs.
Mr Satu denied any knowledge of them.
Lawrence Makili, Pacific director of the San Francisco-based group Earth Island Institute, said the discovery of the dead dolphins constituted “clear evidence” that they had been mistreated.
Solomons Fisheries Minister Nollen Leni defended the decision to allow
the exports, accusing animal welfare groups of trying to block the
country’s “new million-dollar” industry.
Mr Leni said each dolphin is priced at 200,000 US dollars (GBP100,000) in the Dubai market.
He said the country has never broken any laws while exporting dolphins, and arguments by animal activists based on the Convention on
International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) were completely
Mr Leni said Cites, which the Solomons ratified earlier this year, is
not a body of law, but a set of agreed principles and guidelines put in place by countries to manage their resources.
“Nobody, especially the hopeless NGOs (non-government organisations),
has told us what laws we have broken to allow the export of dolphins,”
he told The Associated Press.
Both Australia and New Zealand voiced opposition to the shipment.
Australian Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull said his government did not support any commercial export of dolphins.
New Zealand Conservation Minister Chris Carter said in a letter to Mark Kemakeza, Solomon Islands forests, environment and conservation
minister, that he was gravely concerned over the resumption of live
The Solomon Islands banned the live dolphin export trade in 2003
following an outcry over a consignment of 28 bottlenose dolphins to an
aquatic park in Mexico. Activists claim at least nine of the dolphins
died in Mexico.
Mr Satu, who was involved in the exports to Mexico, claimed the ban was illegal and won a landmark court ruling last December that paved the way for dolphin exports to resume.
After the court ruling, the government quickly changed its position on
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