The Solomon Islands Dolphins Drama
SOLOMON ISLAND DOLPHIN CAPTURE SYNOPSIS
- Solomon Islands is a chain of 1000 islands 1,800 KM north of Australia, became independent in 1978.
- Civil war between 2 major islands in 1999 - 2000 which led to collapse of police force and most organizations of state.
- 5 years of violence and economic collapse have paralyzed much of the administration. Government unable to control warlords and armed gangs.
- Australia and new Zealand sending in troops to try to intervene and restore order.
- Solomon Islands not signed on to CITES.
- In the past Solomon Island residents considered dolphins a cherished part of Solomon Island cultural Heritage.
- Foreign Business Group consisting of Canadians, Mexicans and Germans took advantage of political upheaval in the Solomons to capture dolphins for the captivity industry.
- Canadian Christopher Porter of Wave Consultants is at the centre of the scheme - wife is Solomon Islander- He went to the island under the pretence that he was going to educate fishermen about unnecessary killingof dolphins and create a resort to boost tourism - No resort was created, only the 6 dolphin pens. Porter's accountant, Greg Thompson said the company has government approval from the fisheries department.
- Potential buyers: Mexico, Japan, Thailand, Taiwan, Italy.
- Market value of captive dolphins estimated at $25,000 - $30,000 USD.
- Dolphins captured by villagers who were paid $400 Solomon Island dollars ($260 US).
- Capture method: Rounded up, netted in crude fishing nets, dragged out and dumped into open boats then transported to Gela approx. 2 1/2 hours boat ride.
- As many as 200 dolphins captured - largest recorded capture.
- Scientific note: too many taken, may damage gene pool.
- Solomon sea pens holding dolphins are 3 feet deep, 30 metres by 40 metres, guarded by armed militia. Fencing constructed of wire, rope and mango tree posts.
- Local fishermen being paid well to get fish for food for captive dolphins, using dynamite to catch fish.
- Solomon cops arrested and harassed media trying to film the captured dolphins, one cameraman kicked.
- New Zealand TV crew boat driver was beaten for 5 minutes, there was blood coming out if his mouth - He was hired to enable the TV crew to film the captive dolphins in pens.
- 1 dolphin who was being trained was killed by a crocodile, 3 others also died in Solomon pens.
- Permit for 33 dolphins to go to Mexico was negotiated with Solomons Department of Fisheries on or around July 6, 2003.
- Mexico is a CITES signatory.
- Mexico no longer allows captures in their waters, but allows 'humane' imports.
- Mexico claims they have no proof the capture was not humane.
- Mexican Co. that purchased dolphins: Parque Nizuc, Manager Mr. Mauricio Martinez de Alba.
- Potentially a Canadian Co. was hired to transport the dolphins.
- Honiara Airport locked down so no one can film the plane or loading of dolphins.
- Shipped 28 dolphins (13 female and 15 males) to Cancun Aquatic Park - unsure if 33 were shipped per info from permit, possibly 5 died on route.
- Transported via Brazil Air Cargo on a DC 10 to Mexico stopping in Brazil.
- Heavy security of police and military in Mexico escorting animals to Parque Nizuc.
- Dolphins shipped in "coffin like" containers, described by Ben White on site in Mexico, as metal boxes without water visible (Canadian National Post article indicated that the crates had "small pools of water"), dolphins in slings.
- At least 2 died in Mexico, as observed by Ben White, others appear lethargic.
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