28 Aug 2007

Solomons opens dolphin trade

3:42 pm on 28 August 2007

The Solomon Islands government says it is allowing the exports of live dolphins and it is encouraging locals to enter the potentially lucrative business.

The Minister of Fisheries Nollen Leni told the newspaper, Solomon Star that exports can resume after assurances from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, or CITES.

CITES aims is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.

Our correspondent in Honiara, Dorothy Wickham, says Mr Leni explained why the decision was made.

"The position the Ministry of Fisheries has given out is that it is not illegal here, and that it would be helping locals to make money out of a resource that is not utilised."

A former prime minister Sir Allan Kamakeza had imposed a ban on exporting dolphins.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature had called for the export to be stopped as it said there have been no studies on the status of local dolphin populations in the country.

There were also fears that the resumption of the export of live dolphins could harm the country's tuna industry as tuna products from Solomon islands are known for being dolphin-friendly.