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Solomon Islands’ fresh capture of dolphins

31st July 03


Fears are growing for the fate of over 170 dolphins
captured from waters surrounding the Solomon Islands
in recent weeks, with WSPA repeating its calls for
authorities to intervene, stop the captures and return
the animals to the wild. In spite of public protestations
and the highly questionable legality of the captures and
subsequent trade, eight more dolphins were taken from
local waters this week.

Up to 200 dolphins have been
captured by local fishermen
(APF Photo's:T Blackwood)

The dolphins are now being kept with the others in shallow sea pens. Resources are woefully inadequate; food is scarce and locals have reported scratches and blisters on the mammals, caused as a result of the dolphins being unable to dive deep enough to avoid the sun's rays.

Several dolphins have already died, including one female that perished on Monday after being shipped out to a Mexican amusement park along with 27 others.

Although the Convention on International Trade in
Endangered Species (CITES) Secretariat in Geneva
has now confirmed that it advised Mexico to allow
the export of 120 bottlenose dolphins from the
Solomon Islands, subject to certain requirements,
it is now investigating whether this criteria was met
after WSPA exposed the trade as unlawful. If the
operation is found to be in violation of CITES
requirements, CITES Secretariat will not hesitate to
recommend rejection of export permits issued by the
Solomon Islands.

The makeshift pens in which the dolphins are living
(APF Photo's:T Blackwood)

'To date, an illegally traded dolphin has died, as have four others that were incarcerated in pens in the Solomon Islands. Many of those still alive are in poor health, yet the capture of dolphins in dubious circumstances continues," said Leah Garces, WSPA's Head of Campaigns, "Time is running out for these dolphins. These animals are not products like bags of potatoes. They are intelligent, sentient beings. How many more will die before the government takes action?"

Animal welfarists were shocked to learn that the number of dolphins taken for this operation alone is a fifth of the total number known to be kept in
captivity worldwide. WSPA, which is opposed
to the taking of wild dolphins from their natural
habitat, has been campaigning for a number of
years against the taking of dolphins for marine
parks and, in recent years, against the controversial
captive swim-with-dolphin programmes. But the
industry is a lucrative one; foreign business interests
collecting and training dolphins for shipment abroad
can sell a dolphin for up to $30,000.

The dolphins being loaded onto the
Brazilian plane bound for Cancun
(APF Photo's:T Blackwood)

Garces continued, 'How many more captures will there be before people realise that the so-called 'pleasure' they experience from watching dolphins in captivity comes at a grave cost to the animal entertaining them. I urge anyone thinking of visiting a marine park or swim-with-dolphin programmes to reconsider. By visiting such places you are endorsing a cruel, unethical and, in this case, illegal practice.'

For more information, pictures or footage, contact (UK):
Debra Ashton/Jonathan Owen, WSPA,
0207 587 5000
Mobile 07909 546276 or 07801 386671.

1. All species of dolphin are protected from illegal trade under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

2. WSPA is recognised by the UN and works to raise the standards of animal welfare throughout the world. As the leading international federation of animal welfare organisations, WSPA’s campaigns and projects are developed in partnership with more than 440 member societies in over 100 countries.

Through its campaigns, education, training and animal rescue initiatives,
WSPA seeks to ensure that the principles of animal welfare are universally understood and respected, and protected by effectively enforced legislation.
For details of how people can help WSPA in its campaign to free the dolphins,
please go to