Sunday, 24 June 2007 11:28 PM

A Dolphin Dealer's Dream, a Dolphin's Nightmar

CHRISTOPHER Porter justifies the violent capture of dolphins in the waters off the Solomon Islands as "my dream is to create a breeding center," he says.
But why would anyone want to destroy the lives of dolphins by yanking them out of their ocean environment -- with the purpose of making them breed?
Dolphins have evolved and multiplied over more than 50 million years!
They are perfectly able to breed on their own, without Porter's help.
Dolphins are being hunted and killed in the Solomon Islands for their meat and teeth, a practice that Porter is now taking advantage of to obtain dolphins for his business, regardless of the misery suffered by the targeted animals.
I cannot help but wonder how much money is involved in this dolphin trade. In his statement, Porter mentions how it brings "far greater economic value to the community as a whole."
Porter says that he is trying to "work out a live alternative use for dolphins which maintains the cultural values of utilization of the dolphins but keeps the dolphins alive."
Perhaps he is trying to present himself as someone who cares about the welfare of dolphins.
If this is the case, it's not working.
A dead dolphin has no commercial value to Porter, so obviously he wants them delivered alive. From a dolphin conservation standpoint, it doesn't matter if the captured dolphins are killed or used alive in the marine mammal park industry:
The dolphins that are taken away from their pods are gone forever and will no longer be able to multiply in the wild.
For the Solomon Islands to allow Porter to implement his plans, therefore, seems like a weak and undignified way to start off their membership of CITES.
In fact, one must seriously question whether Porter's activities are in violation of CITES regulations.

In a letter to Solomon Islands' government officials, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) states: "We are not aware that any credible, peer-reviewed studies of bottlenose dolphins have been undertaken in the Solomon Islands since 2003 that would lead us to change the conclusion we reached at that time, i.e. that a non-detriment finding under CITES is not possible for these populations at present and that exports therefore should not take place."

Having witnessed several dolphin captures in Japanese waters in recent years, I can tell you that they are exceptionally brutal and often deadly.
Entire schools of dolphins are demolished in order that the marine mammal display industry can obtain their desired number of show-quality dolphins.
Porter doesn't seem to care. His statement is lacking any sign of compassion and respect for the animals in question.
There is no mention of the victim dolphins that have already died in his hands.
There is no hint of regret that these highly intelligent, social and free-ranging marine mammals will be incarcerated for life in the name of commercial exploitation -- just so that yet another dolphin dealer can fulfill his "dream."

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this letter/article are those of Helene O'Barry, Field Correspondent, Earth Island and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Solomon Times Online.

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