International outrage over Solomon Islands' dolphin kill | Asia Pacific

International outrage over Solomon Islands' dolphin kill

International outrage over Solomon Islands' dolphin kill

Updated 23 January 2013, 22:04 AEST

The slaughter of over 700 dolphins in Solomon Islands is causing international outrage.

Earlier this week the village of Fanalei, on South Malaita, captured and killed over 700 dolphins, in protest they say at the non payment of funds promised by a conservation movement, to forego their traditional hunting practise.

But the conservation group, "The Earth Island Institute" is disputing that version of events, saying the money has been provided to village representatives, who have to explain where it went.

Correspondent: Campbell Cooney

Speakers: Lawrence Makili, The Director of the Earth Island Institute; Atkin Fakaia, Chairman of the Fanalei Honiara Association

COONEY: By any measure the number of dolphins caught and slaughtered by the members of Fanalei village in South Malaita is staggering.

FAKAIA: The number of dolphins that were caught was around 700 to 900.

COONEY: Atkin Fakaia is the Chairman of the Fanalei Honiara based Association, representing those from the island village living in the capital and also acting as the villagers representative there.

Traditionally the animals are used to provide meat and income for the village, with the men also using the mammal's teeth to pay a bride's price.

For the past two years, that village, as well as other villages on Malaita have been parties to a Memorandum of Understanding with the Conservation group the Earth Island Institute, which provides funding to develop other income producing projects, in return for the villages not hunting dolphins.

But now that MOU appears to be have been scrapped.

FAKAIA: The issue of them going back fishing for and killing dolphins, was on the understanding that Earth Island has reluctant to pay the agreed amount that was due to the community and so they just felt as if they was just disappointed and dissatisfied over the attitude of Earth Island.

The Director of the Institute, Lawrence Makili has disputed the villager's version of events leading up to the slaughter.

MAKILI: The communities use that as an excuse to have a reason for them to do what they were doing. Our institute has played their part by providing small grants to the communities for them to set up small income-generation projects. Within the two years term, we first gave out some money to the community which was 300-thousand dollars SPD, that is Solomon Island dollars , and during the distribution of the funds to the government to individual members of individual families. The strategy that they set up in the community for the distribution of funds was not happy by other members of the community and we also went back to the community and had some sort of, discuss with them and they do agree that the funds should be channelled to the Fanalei people based in Honiara, in the city, but that second can't say that we gave it to them is worth about 400-thousand SPD dollars, Solomon Island dollars, and that money never reached the community. It was sink in Honiara by their own community members that, who were given the trustee for them.

COONEY: Mr Fakaia hasn't commented on what the E.I.I money was used for or where it went, but he defends it's being distributed by village members living in the capital.

FAKAIA: We are more literate than them who are back in the villages to speak on their behalf. Earth Island should have consulted us firstly.

MAKILI: Earth Island has stood this straight on the table. It is these communities influenced by their people who are living in Honiara, working in Honiara, got fortnight pay in Honiara, influenced these people in the village to do whatever they want in order to lure us to give more money, but we cannot give more money, because they're not accountable for it. There are three communities in Malaita that we're working with. The other two communities, we are still maintaining our relationship. They still maintain our relationship within the MOU. Only one community that they thought that they would do whatever they want, in order for us to come back to the table, but I think I'm not coming back to the table because of the evil thing that they've done.

FAKAIA: The only avenue which we can really get back to them and to force them to get the payments done was to get them into a court to pick a law suit with them.

COONEY: While the Institute and the village of Fanalei continue to argue, the slaughter has resulted in international outrage, and the sort of attention that no government wants.

In recent years Solomon Islands has been criticised for allowing the live export of dolphins from its waters.

As well the international companies interested in investing in its Tuna fisheries and canneries, have made it clear a dolphin friendly environment in the island nation is essential.

Lawrence Makili from the Earth Island Institute says events this week could leave that image in tatters.

MAKILI: First message that they sent, that this country sent, it is a problem with the Government of Solomon Islands. They don't see the dolphin issue as a very sensitive issue to the Tuna industry. The Tuna industry was very sensitive to the dolphin issue. As we all aware, that the biggest market is for Tuna flakes, Tuna loin is zero and it is the high demand from Europe that the product has to be dolphin friendly.Subjects:

Contributors

Campbell Cooney

Campbell Cooney

Correspondent

Campbell joined the ABC in 1997 and has been reporting as Radio Australia’s Pacific Correspondent since 2006.

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