GROUPS SEEK TO STOP THE RE-EXPORT OF DOLPHINS

Environment and animal welfare groups filed a petition against the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and the Department of Agriculture (DA) to stop the re-export of 25 Solomon Island dolphins to Singapore which are now being held in Ocean Adventure Park in Subic. Instead, the groups call on the government to return the dolphins back to their home in the Solomon Islands.

Since 2008, a total of 25 wild-caught dolphins have been imported by Resorts World Singapore (RWS) into the Philippines from the Solomon Islands despite scientific reports from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) showing that the harvest of wild dolphins from the Solomon Islands may not be sustainable and could further endanger the local population of dolphins in the island nation. Starting 1 January 2012, the Solomon Island government banned dolphin hunts in their territory. A tacit admission that the hunts were unsustainable. The latest study, participated in by no less than the Solomons government reveal that only one (1) dolphin may be harvested in every 5 years to sustain the population of the species.

Despite being informed about these scientific studies and the IUCN reports, dolphins were imported into the country several times in 2008, 2009 & 2011. Trixie Concepcion of Earth Island Institute (EII) says the importation of dolphins into the Philippines should not have been allowed as this has violated the country’s commitments under the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) as well as the Philippine Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act or RA 9147 which states that "All activities… shall be authorized by the Secretary upon proper evaluation of best available information or scientific data showing that the activity is, or for a purpose, not detrimental to the survival of the species or subspecies involved and/or their habitat.”

"Aside from the fact that the import permits for the 25 dolphins from the Solomon Islands were issued without proper evaluation of the best available scientific data, the dolphins, caught in the wild from the Solomon Islands, were forcibly snatched from their families and will live short, miserable lives in captivity as show animals for Resorts World in Singapore (RWS),” said Philippine Animal Welfare (PAWS) director, Anna Cabrera. She added that scientific studies have proven that dolphins, whales, and other cetaceans are not suited for a life of captivity because they are highly social creatures that are accustomed to being in families or pods.

Said dolphins were brought to Ocean Adventure, Subic for training and kept under tight security while the marine park in Singapore is under construction. The group doubts if BFAR and the Bureau of Animal Industry- Animal Welfare Division (BAI-AWD) have ever inspected the condition of the dolphins in the facility.

A Singapore-based group is also campaigning to stop RWS from importing dolphins. Since May last year, Animal Concerns Education and Research Society of Singapore (ACRES), together with Earth Island Institute (EII) tied up and launched an international campaign to urge RWS to free the 25 dolphins. So far, the ‘Save the World’s Saddest Dolphins’ campaign has generated over six hundred thousand signatures in its online petition.

Among the complainants are Earth Island Institute Philippines (EII-Phils), Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), Compassion and Responsibility to Animals (CARA) Welfare Philippines, Dolphins Love Freedom Network, Save Philippine Seas, Save Freedom Island Movement, Wild Bird Club of the Philippines, and other activist individuals. The groups are now calling on Department of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and Bureau of Fisheries Director Asis Perez to rectify the situation by denying the re-export permit application and releasing the dolphins back to their natural habitat. ####