29 April 2009

CITES to scrutinize Solomon Islands dolphin trade

CITES will conduct an "in-depth review" of the Solomon Islands trade in wild-caught dolphins. Preliminary recommendations are that the Solomon Islands limit exports of such dolphins to 10 a year. The Solomon government's quota of 100 a year is deemed unsustainable.

In late 2008, 18 wild-caught Solomon dolphins were exported to the Philippines for 'training' and will eventually be sent to Singapore for Resorts World Sentosa. SPCA has spoken against this move, and the issue was among those that sparked the setting up of the facebook group I will boycott Resorts World Sentosa and its Marine Life Park which currently has 2,000 members.

On their page about their Marine Life Park, Resorts World Sentosa states that "The acquisition of animals for the Marine Life Park will be done in full compliance with international standards which, in this case, are standards set by CITES."

Some excerpts of a report on this latest development:

Evidence from leading cetacean experts in the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's Cetacean Specialist Group (CSG) reveals a lack of population data for bottlenose dolphins in the Solomon Islands.

This led the specialists to conclude that it is impossible to determine that the export of bottlenose dolphins is not detrimental to the wild population - a CITES requirement.

Despite these findings, the Solomon Islands exported 28 wild-caught dolphins in 2007 and 19 more to the Philippines this past winter.

If the Solomon Islands is violating the rules, it will be given a chance to comply before trade sanctions could be implemented.

The Animals Committee also recommended that the Solomon Islands' government set a more cautious dolphin export quota. A total quota (including all causes of dolphin mortality and live captures) of ten bottlenose dolphins per year for up to four years as a precautionary standard until population surveys are completed was suggested by a CSG representative.

Currently, the government has established an annual export quota of 100 wild-caught dolphins - a level of trade the CSG deemed unsustainable.

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