Solomon Islands’ fresh capture of dolphins, despite deaths – CITES investigates
Fears are growing for the fate of over 170 dolphins captured from waters surrounding the Solomon Islands in recent
weeks, with the World Society for the Protection of Animals (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.
“Many of those still alive are in poor health, yet the capture of dolphins in dubious circumstances continues,” said
Kimberly Muncaster, Manager WSPA New Zealand, who has recently returned from the Solomons. "Time is running out for
these dolphins. These animals are not products or mere commodities. They are intelligent, sentient beings. How many more
will die before the government takes action?”
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.
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 NZ$49,000.
Muncaster 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.”
All species of dolphin are protected from illegal trade under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered
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