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NZ Helps Stop Mexico Importing Solomons Dolphins

New Zealand’s lobbying pays off - Mexico blocks imports as Solomon Islands’ dolphins controversy continues

Following official approaches by New Zealand, Mexico has agreed not to authorise further imports of dolphins from the Solomon Islands. In a letter to the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), the Hon. Phil Goff, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, stated “As a result of our approach, Mexico has assured us that, in light of the new information it now has on the situation in the Solomon Islands, it would not, on scientific grounds, authorise further imports.”

Kimberly Muncaster, Manager WSPA New Zealand, welcomed this news and said, “We are delighted at this latest development and to see that the New Zealand government has once again been a positive force for change. The captures and subsequent trade in dolphins from the Solomon Islands should have never taken place and we are calling on officials there to take immediate action to protect the welfare of these dolphins.”

Victor Lichtinger, Mexico’s Secretary of the Environment, stated earlier this week that Mexico will block any further imports of dolphins from the Solomon Islands. Mexico has launched an investigation into the recent shipment of 28 dolphins to Parque National Park, Cancun, one of which died just days after arriving in the country.

WSPA has led an international outcry over the capture and planned export of up to 200 wild dolphins from waters off the Solomon Islands in recent months. Concerns raised by WSPA regarding the illegality of these captures have resulted in the matter being addressed by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

Concerns are mounting over the future of the surviving 27 dolphins currently in Mexico. It remains to be seen what will become of dozens of dolphins still being kept in shallow overcrowded sea pens off the Solomon Islands.

Several have already died; food is scarce and locals have reported scratches and blisters on the marine mammals, caused as a result of the dolphins being unable to dive deep enough to avoid the sun’s rays.

WSPA is leading 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, the captures have continued in recent weeks.

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 $30,000.

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