Dolphin slaughter threatens Solomon Islands tourism

Jan 30, 2013

Villagers kill 1,000 dolphins saying US charity has reneged on deal to pay them not to cull the mammals

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MORE than 1,000 dolphins have been slaughtered in the Solomon Islands in the past few weeks because of a dispute between villagers and an American conservation group which had been paying them compensation to abandon their annual cull.

The killing, described by The Guardian as "one of the worst cases of dolphin slaughter in the Solomon Islands for some time", has appalled conservationists and threatens to undermine the fledgling tourism industry of the South Pacific island state.

Locals on the island of Malaita say they have resumed their annual cull of the marine mammals after the US-based Earth Island Institute failed to pay them the compensation it had promised. The deal is said to be worth SI$2.4m (around £200,000) over two years and the villagers claim they have only been paid £60,000 of that.

However, the Earth Island Institute says it did pay the money owed. However, it went to representatives of the village based in the country's capital Honiara, who failed to pass it on, says the charity.

Radio Australia reports that the villagers are pledging to continue to slaughter dolphins “if the Earth Island Institute doesn't pay what they claim they are owed" and says that the slaughter could affect tourism in the country, which was visited by Prince William and Kate on their tour of the Pacific last year.

Michael Tokuru, head of the Solomon Islands' visitors' bureau, said the row could damage the country's efforts to promote eco-tourism. "I have no doubt in my mind that there will be some impact with regards to our image," he said. "It will have some negative impact."

Tourism operators in the country have also called for the Solomon Islands government to get involved. One dive operator told Radio Australia he feared that "people will become more and more disgusted when they realise what's happening".

The campaigning website Care2 explains: "The dolphins are hunted by being driven together with boats; fishermen use stones to make sounds that scare and disorient the animals who are then herded into a bay or beach. In Malaita, meat from dolphins is then distributed among households and the dolphin's teeth used for jewellery or as currency on the island." It is reported that the islanders also sell some dolphins to marine parks.

The Solomon Islands is said to have some of the world's best diving sites, thanks to the World War II wrecks that lie in its waters. However, the country has been unstable for years and has been rebuilding since the end of a civil war in 2003.

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Revolting, exceedingly cruel, plain disgusting.

Disgusting people. Strike the Solomon Islands from the "places to visit" list.

I find it disgusting that a certain race of humans could slaughter a more intelligent race than them (yes dolphins are more intelligent than these black wastes)

Wife and I already had trip there booked when we heard about this - trip cancelled.

you idiot racist twat

Really? Presumably you don't eat meat of any sort then...
This is a complicated issue. Killing mammals may appear wrong to many, but this is a traditional hunt and the animals have traditionally been killed for their meat.
The fact that the villagers might capture and sell the animals is surely a by-product of demand elsewhere in more 'civilised' societies.

Attempts to stop the hunt should be applauded but education rather than racist insults are the way forward.
I also think questions need to be asked about the idea of paying the villagers to forgo the hunt. It smacks of bribery and reinforces the villagers' association of dophins to material gain, which is the critical point here.