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Conservation group says ‘Dolphin Safe’ certification at stake

By Moffat Mamu HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Jan. 20, 2011) – Earth Island Institute (EII) says the proposed export by Solomon Islands Marine Mammals and Education Centre (SIMMEC) is making things difficult for Solomon Islands to [attract tuna industry investments].

Mark Berman, director of EII’s dolphin safe tuna monitoring program said this followed news about the proposed export of dolphins to Europe.

SIMMEC Director, Robert Satu said he had received requests from a number of countries including Germany, France and Dubai.

Mr. Satu plan sto resume hunting mid next month and early March.

But speaking to the Solomon Star, Mr. Berman said Mr. Satu was going to make things impossible for Solomon Islands to have tuna factories built.

"If he goes ahead with this, then the Solomon Islands government can forget about Frabelle and Dong Won investing," he said.

Earth Island Institute is a United States-based environmental organization which provides "dolphin safe" certification for canned tuna producers.

They regularly inspect tuna in canneries, at dockside, and aboard fishing vessels in order to insure tuna consumers buy is not [caught with drift nets, which are known to entangle dolphins, turtles, sea birds and other marine mammals – some of the endangered species.]

In the country Earth Island has an agreement with Soltai Fishing and Processing Limited (SFPL) and the Western Province.

In this agreements Soltai pledges to abide by the Earth Island international dolphin safe tuna standards by not catching dolphin and use of drift gill nets

Over the past years Earth Island had warned Malaita and Guadalcanal Province to cease hunting and capturing of these mammals because [otherwise the organization would not certify the canned product as "dolphin safe."

Mr. Berman further added EII was going to lobby with the European Union (EU) to stop dolphin exports to Germany and France.

"We are going to lobby EU to make it impossible for any import into Germany or France," he said.

With Gavutu now closed, the United States based director questioned where Satu was going to put all dolphins.

"And how will he keep them alive," he said.

Mr. Satu had previously released 14 dolphins on Independence Day last year.

He claimed the release was based on instructions and agreement with EII.

"They promised us a huge sum of money if we release the dolphins, but still that promise is yet to be fulfilled," he said.

He described the deal as a total waste and loss for both the center and the nation as a whole.

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