900 Dolphins Killed in Solomon Islands After “Misunderstanding”

900 dolphins are dead in the Solomon Islands in Oceania in the Pacific Ocean due to an apparent dispute between villagers and the Earth Island Institute, a Berkeley-based conservation group. Residents of Solomon Island say that Earth Island failed to pay up to $400,000 to the village of Fanalei for agreeing to stop the traditional dolphin hunt. But Earth Island claims that a “renegade group” killed the dolphins, as “sabotage” against the group’s work.

The Solomon Islands have been a supplier of live dolphins sold to aquariums in China and Dubai; a single dolphin can fetch up to $150,000.

For the past two years, Earth Island Institute has been working with the island of Malaita (the largest island of the Solomon Islands’ Malaita province) to try to stop the hunt. 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 jewelry or as currency on the island.

The islanders have aired their concerns about Earth Island Institute on Radio Australia, says the Guardian. Residents of Fanalei say that the conservation group had only paid a third of the promised funds. As a result, “disillusioned” villagers have returned to hunting.Atkin Fakaia, a community leader, says flat-out that “Earth Island had been reluctant to pay the agreed amount that was due to the community.”

For its part, Earth Island claims that the issue is more complex. David Phillips, who oversees international dolphin protection efforts for the group, alleges that a “renegade group” based in the capital ofHoniara has “grabbed funds that were supposed to go to the community” and not distributed them. The funds were supposed to be paid as small grants for community and “income generating projects” specifically in the village of Fanalei.

While Philips said his group is working with the villagers to resolve the matter, theGuardian notes that the dispute is more likely to end up in court. It will not be the first time that a legal fight has been raised over dolphins from Solomon Island. Since 2005, the export of dolphins from the islands has been banned but this regulation was lifted after an October 2007 court decision. In that year,28 dolphins were sent to a dolphinarium in Dubai; three more had been found dead near holding pens.

After this, CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora)undertook a thorough review of the commercial dolphin trade. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Cetacean Specialist Group has said that there is insufficient information about whether the Solomon Islands has enough dolphin to sustain an export quota of about 100 animals per year.

The killing of nearly a thousand dolphins in the Solomon Islands sadly shows how much “misunderstanding” exists between the local residents and well-meaning environmentalists from the West. Sadly, this has ledto “one of the worst cases of dolphin slaughter in the Solomon Islands for some time, and delivered a huge setback to conservation efforts in a world ‘hot spot’ for the dolphin trade,” says theGuardian.The fight to save the world’s endangered species requires not only cooperation, but whole-hearted efforts to understand and respect the situation of local communities.


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Photo: jenorton/flickr


Elisa F.
Elisa F3 years ago

A Travesty :(

Seán O'Nilbud
Seán O'Nilbud4 years ago

Why not pay $5,000 to anyone who kicks the everliving shit out of someone who kills a dolphin, They would only have to pay out a fraction of the money.

B Lewenza
B Lewenza4 years ago

The slaughter of 900 dolphins is a misunderstanding, what do they do when they get angry? This is digusting, senseless and out right sickening, the creatures are harmless and communicate with humans, what was the sense in this? These people should be fed to the sharks!!!

James Beeston
James Beeston4 years ago

how can you call that disgusting slaughter a misunderstanding

Peter A.
Past Member 4 years ago


S. N.
Susan N4 years ago

That was not a "misunderstanding," that was deliberate senseless slaughter, especially if it was only for money. Sounds like the native peoples there have learned how capitalism, greed, and selfish arrogance work. I don't know what Solomon Islanders think about their place on this planet, but it does not seem like a good one.

Angie V.
Angie V4 years ago

Wow devastating!

L X4 years ago

This is the same situation as trade in rhino and elephant parts: we have to address this problem from the buying end, not just the supply end. If we can convince Dubai and other wealthy nations to stop buying intelligent, emotionally complex, sonic-sensitive dolphins for us to view as entertaining objects in little echoing water tanks, then some of the motivation for poor or greedy hunters to capture and sell them, or to extort money for their preservation, will be eliminated. China has shown no concern at all, however, regarding depletion or extinction of any species or resource, and serious diplomatic efforts would have to be made by the West.

Maybe people from these dolphin-hunting areas could also be convinced that scuba and boating tourism pays as well as capturing and killing dolphins. It's possible that these people could also be educated about the value of preserving their resources for their children and grandchildren, rather than going the way of the (now long-gone) people of Easter Island.

Georgia G.
Georgia a4 years ago

I just do not care for animals to be placed in zoos, cages, pens, whatever manner of constraint. We are always bitching about the inhumanity of jails for mankind, how about cages for dolphins, bears, tigers, etc. I would never care to be penned up for life and I doubt the animals care much for it either. That is the main reason I do not visit places where animals are penned. It hurts my heart too much knowing I can do nothing about it.

Sebastian James
Sebastian J4 years ago

This is one of the few times that I am moved to express my disgust with the human species at large.

We. are descendants of a carnivorous ape. In one respect we have indeed descended - as in lowered