Documents have confirmed that a Solomon Islands dolphin exporter was not legally able to catch the mammals.
According to documents obtained by the Solomon Star, the Fisheries Ministry and the Environment Ministry approved a permit for local exporter, Dr Badley Anita, to export the dolphins, but they show his fishing licences had expired.
In a letter signed by the director of the Fisheries Ministry, James Teri, the licence specified the purchase, holding, processing and export of live dolphins.
That licence remains valid until the end of this year.
The Solomons' government last week passed a new policy to ban all dolphin exports from January next year.