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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, May 2) – A noted San Francisco-based environmental organization has written to Solomon Islands Prime Minister Allan Kemakeza and Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources Paul Maenu, denying claims circulated by Ocean OdysSeas LLC.

The letter, from Earth Island Institute, said the report misrepresented Earth Island Institute and attempted to deceive the Solomon Islands Government into reversing its ban on the export of dolphins.

Director of the International Marine Mammal Project of Earth Island Institute, David Phillips said: "The report fails to disclose that its author has direct financial interests in the international traffic in dolphins and other small whales.

"Ocean OdysSeas’ report is a thinly disguised effort to defame Earth Island Institute, based on a series of distortions and outright fabrications."

David Phillips said their lawyers are exploring legal action in response to the Ocean OdysSeas report.

Ocean OdysSeas claimed that Earth Island Institute was being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and other State agencies.

"This is absurd because Earth Island Institute often works in concert with U.S. federal police agencies, such as the federal enforcement division of the US Customs Bureau to catch illegal canned tuna shipments," Mr. Phillips said.

He said Earth Island Institute has offered its assistance to work with the Solomon Islands Government to prevent the unscientific and inhumane dolphin capture and export schemes undertaken by Ocean OdysSeas.

[Ocean OdysSeas is reportedly owned by Ted Turner, co-founder of Behavior International; a company dedicated to teaching positive reinforcement techniques to pet owners. He graduated from the University of Central Florida with a B.A. in Psychology, is a U.S. Air Force veteran and holds memberships in the American Zoological Association, the Animal Behavior Management Association, and the International Marine Animal Trainers Association.

[Ocean OdysSeas is described as a marine life education program that combines ocean adventure with animal interaction and promotes further study of our oceans treasures.]

Phillips said the Ocean OdysSeas allegations are "nothing more than an attempt to shift attention from the shame and world scorn that the capture, long-term penning, and export of dolphins has brought to the Solomon Islands."

He told the Prime Minister that his government should be applauded for taking steps "to prevent mercenary, outside financial interests from exploiting Solomon Islands’ wildlife heritage for financial gain".

Earth Island Institute is a science-based non-profit organization, based in San Francisco, California. The Institute was established in 1982 by the US environmental advocate, David Brower, the first Executive Director of the Sierra Club and founder of Friends of the Earth.

May 2, 2005

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