The International Marine Mammal Project (IMMP) recently uncovered shocking evidence of two secret captures of more than 30 Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins in the Solomon Islands. Dolphins were driven to shore in the Western Provinces in an inhumane capture process similar to the dolphin drives in Taiji, Japan. Dolphins were then transported by boat to shallow net pens on Bungana Island off the coast of Honiara. We believe the illegal scheme intended to export the dolphins to China or other far-flung countries for miserable lives in captivity. The investigative findings were provided to the Solomon Islands government.
Fortunately, the Solomon Islands Fisheries Ministry, led by Acting Fisheries Secretary Mr. Ferral Lasi, has taken the matter very seriously. Today they reported that the captures are in clear violation of Solomon Islands law and that captured dolphins both in the Western Provinces and at the Bungana Island net pens have been released back into the ocean. Minister Lasi suggested that legal action might be taken against those involved.
David Phillips, Director of the International Marine Mammal Project said today upon reports of the releases: "The Solomon Islands Fisheries Ministry deserves great credit for upholding the ban on dolphin capture and export. The Government has cracked down on this secret and illegal capture and export scheme.”
The captivity industry in wealthy nations such as Singapore and Japan is booming, creating lucrative markets for wild-caught dolphins and whales. China has made big news recently with attempts to import hundreds of marine mammals from the coastal waters of Namibia, including orcas and bottlenose dolphins, for captive display.
“Without the Solomon Islands government’s raid and intervention, more than 30 dolphins might have been loaded aboard cargo jets and flown off, likely bound for China,” noted Phillips. “The journey is harrowing enough, as is the trauma of being torn from their families and ocean home. Dolphin capture and transport is cruel and, results in stress, disease and premature death.”
The Solomon Islands used to be at the center of the world’s deadly trade in live dolphins. However, strong international pressure convinced the government to institute a full ban on issuing permits for dolphin captures and export, making these two recent captures violations of Solomon Islands law.
The International Marine Mammal Project has been active in the Solomon Islands for more than 15 years, and continues to believe that the Solomon Islands ban on capturing dolphins is critical to the survival of local dolphin populations.
“The release of these captive dolphins back into the ocean is very welcome news, and we commend the Fisheries Ministry, Solomon Police Force, and other parts of the Solomon Islands government for standing firm against the inhumane and horrific trade in live dolphins,” Phillips added. “ The International Marine Mammal Project will also remain vigilant to spotlight any attempts at dolphin capture and illegal trade.”
For a look at the dolphin hunting that has gone on in the Solomon Islands, click here.
Minister Ferral Lasi
Acting Fisheries Secretary
Fisheries and Marine Resources
FAX: (677) 38730