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Solomon Islands Dolphin Trade To Be Scrutinized By International Body; 'This Should Be A Wake-up Call'

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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Solomon Islands controversial trade in wild-caught dolphins is to be subject to an in-depth review under the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), as decided by the CITES Animals Committee at its annual meeting last week in Geneva.

Evidence from leading cetacean experts in the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's Cetacean Specialist Group (CSG) reveals a lack of population data for bottlenose dolphins in the Solomon Islands. This led the specialists to conclude that it is impossible to determine that the export of bottlenose dolphins is not detrimental to the wild population - a CITES requirement. Despite these findings, the Solomon Islands exported 28 wild-caught dolphins in 2007 and 19 more to the Philippines this past winter.

The CSG's evidence was critical to the decision to place this dolphin trade into the CITES significant trade review process, a mechanism to ensure compliance with Convention. If the Solomon Islands is violating the rules, it will be given a chance to comply before trade sanctions could be implemented.

"This should be a wake-up call to the Solomon Islands' government that the sustainability of its controversial trade in wild-caught dolphins will now be under CITES scrutiny," says D.J. Schubert, Wildlife Biologist of the Animal Welfare Institute, who attended the CITES meeting. "The government is obligated to comply with the rules of CITES - rules that it has, to date, ignored. AWI encourages the government to suspend future live captures and exports of bottlenose dolphins, pending completion of the review process."

The Animals Committee also recommended that the Solomon Islands' government set a more cautious dolphin export quota. A total quota (including all causes of dolphin mortality and live captures) of ten bottlenose dolphins per year for up to four years as a precautionary standard until population surveys are completed was suggested by a CSG representative. Currently, the government has established an annual export quota of 100 wild-caught dolphins - a level of trade the CSG deemed unsustainable.

Though only a CITES member since June 2007, the Solomon Islands is quickly developing a rogue reputation. Its role in the illegal international trade of wild-harvested giant clams was also discussed at the Geneva meeting with the clams also being placed into the significant trade review process.

Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of, its staff or its advertisers.

Reader Comments

3 people have commented so far. cloud add your comment

This story is categorically false. The Solomon Islands have operated strictly within the bounds of CITES and the law. Their activities are legal and appropriate. The representative from the Animal Welfare Institute has a history of distorting information in pursuit of their bizarre agenda. The Solomon Islands have been strongly supportive of conservation programs and have worked hard to improve conservation initiatives including the legal and beneficial support of zoos and aquariums that teach people to appreciate and protect wildlife. Please report fairly and responsibly.
   comment# 1   - Ted Turner · Cleveland, Ohio · Apr 30, 2009 @ 12:45pm

Few people benefit from this business included some prominant politician. Bribe and under table has cause the business to flourise in the recent years.This business has forced many illegaland unsustainable harvesting of the bottlenose dolpines. Tighter regulation should be put in place agaisnt solomon islands government if they fail to comply.
   comment# 2   - Ynyohna Loko · Honiara, Solomon Islands · May 1, 2009 @ 8:35am

Ted, you live in the USA and are surely not qualified to speak about environmental issues in the Solomons. I bet you haven't visited the country. Whether or not the trade is sustainable, I am sure the indigenous people of the Western Province are being robbed by carpetbaggers (international businessman) and corrupt officials and politicians. Just as they are being robbed of their forests and their tuna stocks.
   comment# 3   - Stephen · Australia · Mar 7, 2010 @ 4:31pm
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