The Director of the Solomon Islands Marine Mammal Education Center (SIMMEC) and Marine Exports Limited (MEL), Christopher Porter, released a press statement yesterday on the dolphin issue.

"From the beginning I have clearly presented the project to all Government Agencies as well as the general public in the same manner," said Porter. "My dream is to create a breeding center for dolphins that also serves as a resort where guests have the opportunity to spend unlimited times learning and being close with dolphins."

Porter stated that during his original search for a site within the Pacific region he was told of the unique Dolphin Hunting Tradition of the Solomon Islands. "Specialized dolphin hunters call and collect wild dolphins to kill them for their teeth and meat. 1,000 dolphin teeth is a common bride price in some parts of the Solomons.

"I became intrigued by the hunting tradition and extremely excited about the opportunity to work together with these Specialized Hunters and try to work out a live alternative use for dolphins which maintains the cultural values of utilization of the dolphins but keeps the dolphins alive and which brings far greater economic value to the community as a whole."

On the controversial issue of the exportation of dolphins, Chris Porter stated that during his five years of operation only one export shipment of dolphins has occurred. Porter went on to say that within a span of 5 years, SIMMEC/MEL have also invested over 7 million SBD.

"The Solomons own Wildlife Protection Act allows for collection, display and even export of wildlife provided criterias are met," said Porter. "SIMMEC/MEL adhere and follow all necessary requirements. The company has had direct communication with CITES as well as the UN (via IUCN) to ensure the animals are kept in legal means that meet all International requirements to ensure their welfare is kept at the forefront of all discussions."