A recent workshop of marine scientists in Samoa has concluded that the live capture for international trade of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins from local waters threatens the survival of local dolphin populations.

The meeting, hosted by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme in Apia, Samoa, was attended by scientists and managers from the region including New Zealand, Samoa, Australia, Fiji, New Caledonia and the Solomon Islands.

The meeting was convened by the World Conservation Union in response to the international outcry by scientists and conservationists last year over the capture and export of 28 dolphins from the Solomon Islands to the United Arab Emirates.

The World Conservation Union (IUCN) warned the Solomon Islands Government in June of last year against allowing the export of locally caught dolphins - but the warning fell on deaf ears and the Dubai, UAE export of 28 dolphins went ahead. The reason for the warning was the lack of scientific knowledge on local dolphin populations since until an accurate account of the numbers of dolphins in Solomon Island waters is made, the removal of any number of those animals can threaten the survival of the species.

The Samoan meeting confirmed the IUCN's fears. It stated in a press release issued on Saturday August 30th that the Solomon Islands' removal quota of 100 animals per year, prescribed by Fisheries Minister Nollen Leni and the subject of 5 permits already issued to 5 dolphin capture operators, would require local populations of "at least 5,000 animals" if the long term survivability of local populations were to be ensured.

They continued that dolphin "abundance in the area of recent live-captures may be well below 5,000" and that this "signals an urgent need to expand and intensify research efforts to assess the population prior to further removals."

Until more is known on the local dolphin populations, all Solomon Islands dolphin captures must cease immediately" said Ric Obarry of Earth Island Institute.

"Permits allowing live capture must be rescinded. It is the responsible thing for the Solomon Islands government to do," he continued.