Solomon Islands dolphin slaughter angers conservation groups

Up to 900 dolphins have been killed in Solomon Islands following a dispute between islanders and the US-based conservation group the International Marine Mammal Project (IMMP).

A deal between the two parties that entailed cash incentives to abstain from the traditional dolphin hunt was broken after locals claimed that they had not received the promised money.

People living on Malaita, the largest island in the Solomon Islands, entered into an agreement with IMMP not to kill or capture dolphins in 2010 and, for two years, halted the practice. IMMP claims that the money was paid but has not been properly distributed by the islanders to coastal communities.

“The sudden decision to kill dolphins lies with a disparate group from one community, Fanalei, who broke from the consensus we have built around ending the dolphin killing,” a statement from IMMP said. “Many in this very community we helped are furious over these renegades.”

The hunting of dolphins for both live capture and for meat and other resources can be very lucrative. Dolphins are a popular attraction at aquariums and zoos, so they fetch high prices on the international market.

Dolphin teeth were traditionally used as currency in Solomon Islands and are still traded as well as being an important part of costume and jewellery.

A law which banned the hunting or capture of dolphins was brought in in 2005 but lifted again in 2007 with a quota that allowed 100 dolphins per year to be caught for the entertainment export market.

The Minister for Tourism has expressed his concerns about the effect this will have on tourism, one of the island’s most important sources of revenue and employment.

■ Residents of Temotu province, Solomon Islands, have been trying to repair the damage caused by a tsunami which hit the Santa Cruz Islands on 6 February. The metre-high wave was caused by a magnitude eight earthquake near the town of Lata, Santa Cruz. Tsunami warnings were also issued in New Zealand and smaller waves were recorded nearby.


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