Despite continuous warnings of possible backlash by the international community, the government has decided that dolphin export would continue, but limited to 100 dolphins per annum.The decision by cabinet was made known during a public forum yesterday, organised to get the views of all major stakeholders involved in the exportation of dolphins.
The news did not go down well with the representative of Earth Island Institute, Lawrence Makili. "It is important for the government to have proper policy and regulations in place...or else it would be chaos," said Makili. "Government authorities should carry out studies required by the CITES, a convention we have signed up to...it is only through compliance will we get acceptance in the international community."
Meanwhile dolphin exporter Robert Satu from the Solomon Marine Export Limited lashed out at the comments made by Mr. Makili, describing them as insensitive to the needs of ordinary Solomon Islanders. "The export of bottlenose dolphin is our life, it is our only way of making money...and it is our culture to hunt dolphins."
Cathy Chow of Solomon Marine and Wildlife Park raised similar sentiments. "We should not ignore the fact that big money has been paid to the government in terms of duty taxes when we bring in dolphin food and a lot more money is earned when we export them out of the country."
Dr. Bradley Anita, a member of the Fisheries Advisory Council, said they are looking at expanding their Population Assessment Programme based on the preliminary work carried out by Dr. Richard Defran, of San Diego State University. "Many institutes are willing to assist and for exporters, particularly in a time of global economic recession, this may be the best time to carry out such a research."