Angry response to Solomons dolphin slaughter

01:55, Jan 31 2013
bottlenose dolphins
SLAUGHTER: Bottlenose dolphins have been killed in the dozens in the Solomons.

The continuing slaughter of dolphins in the Solomon Islands is set to hit the troubled nation's struggling tourism industry.

About 1000 dolphins have been killed in the last 10 days by the people of Fanalei on Malaita in an ongoing dispute with a New York environmental group, Earth Island Institute (EII), which in 2010 paid them not to engage in the traditional kill.

Video has emerged suggesting that EII believed the deal was unlikely to last any way.

Administrators of the Visit Solomon Islands Facebook page  said they have been removing postings but people from around the world are hitting them with fresh anger.

"You can delete as many messages as you like, but you can't delete the tragedy that took place on Solomon Islands last week," a South African posted.

"The shame that a handfull of your people bring to your island nation can not be deleted either."

Radio Australia
quoted a dive operator in the Solomons urging the government to stop the killing.

"They should be looking to do something within the next few days," dive operator Danny Kennedy said.

"Fly in somebody from the Ministry of Conservation, maybe the general manager of the tourism authority to go out there and talk to them and try to quell the slaughter."

EII had promised to pay Fanalei S$2.4 million (NZ$400,000) over two years not to kill dolphins, but villagers claim they had only received S$700,000.

As dolphin teeth are used in bride payments and the flesh is eaten, the villagers resumed the killing which is expected to last until March.

AnimalPlanetTV posted on Youtube a video of the negotiations between EII and Fanalei, revealing it was a tense process led by EII's Ric O'Barry and his son Lincoln O'Barry.

One angry villager told the Americans: "One of the elders from this village made an objection about your coming. (He) said you don't try to listen to anybody." Another said he always recorded the numbers of dolphins around the village.

"I don't want to hunt because I saw lots of dolphins and they floated around in the sea. They were not fit for killing, eating."

He said they should stop killing dolphins and take care of God's nature.

O'Barry junior said it had been a difficult negotiation.

"There was a tense moment, there were a lot of questions in the village and change is not an easy thing in the village, and people resist and a scared of changing," he said.

O'Barry senior said it was not for him to judge a culture.

"I am not here to judge. If they are looking for an alternative we are here to support that effort," he said.

An agreement was signed.

"It is a once-in-a-lifetime thing. Most of our victories are few and far between and usually temporary," O'Barry senior said.

Visit Solomon Islands administrators said on the Facebook page they were deleting postings to save space.

"Our Heart goes out to all of you that Love Nature & Wild Life and Dolphins especially and those of you who Love Solomon Islands," the note said, adding Solomon Islanders had lived in harmony with nature for generations.

"The Solomon Islands is still a wonderful Island Country and there are still a lot of Dolphins."

A Kenyan responded on the site people wanted "justice for such an aggressive and violent act".

A New Zealander said the islands would lose tourism as the cull was now on the world front pages.

"How you handle it is an opportunity you should not squander."

Other comments included "it's a shame and the whole world is watching," and "your surroundings may be lovely but your people are ugly, cruel and despicable".