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More dolphins caught in Solomon Islands

For immediate release: Thursday 28th August 2003

News Release

More dolphins caught in Solomon Islands
Marine Park in Mexico closed as controversy continues…

The capture of dolphins in the Solomon Islands continues with confirmation that at least 10 more dolphins were rounded up and caught late last week. This is in spite of public protestations and the highly questionable legality of the captures and subsequent trade. Furthermore, on Wednesday the Mexican environmental authorities announced the partial and temporary closure of Parque Nizuc the aquatic park in Cancun that imported 28 bottlenose dolphins from the Solomon Islands in July.

Report of this latest capture comes from the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) an international animal welfare organisation leading calls for authorities to intervene, stop the captures and return the animals to the wild.

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 a recent report states that many of the dolphins are lying on the surface motionless. “Many of those still alive are in very poor health, yet the captures continue. Time is running out for these dolphins” says Georgia Stephenson, Regional Director, WSPA Australia and New Zealand.

WSPA, along with other animal welfarists welcomed the recent announcement by Victor Lichtinger, Mexico’s Secretary of the Environment, that Mexico will block any further imports of dolphins from the Solomon Islands.

Georgia Stephenson said, “We are delighted that Mexico is shutting the door on any further imports of dolphins from the Solomon Islands. The captures and subsequent trade should have never taken place and we are calling on officials to take immediate action to protect the welfare of these dolphins.”

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). In addition, formal protests have been made to the Solomon Islands by countries including Australia and New Zealand.

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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