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Frabelle Tuna Corp threatens to reconsider plans

By Douglas Marau HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Sept. 15, 2011) - The proposed SB$80 million dollar [US$10.3 million] tuna processing plant on Guadalcanal Province is at risk, a Pacific Tuna Forum held in Palau last week was told.

It is understood Frabelle Tuna Corp who are planning to establish a processing plant at Tenaru, East Guadalcanal has threatened to reconsider their plan to establish in the Solomon Islands.

This is after they learned of the proposed 25 bottlenose dolphins planned to be exported to China from the Solomon Islands.

[PIR editor’s note: [PIR editor’s note: The Solomons government banned live dolphin export trade in 2003 following an outcry over a consignment of 28 bottlenose dolphins to an aquatic park in Mexico. Activists claim at least 12 of the dolphins died. Mr. Satu, who was involved in the exports to Mexico, fought the ban and won a landmark court ruling December 2007, that paved the way for dolphin exports to resume. After the court ruling, the government was swift to change its position on the trade. It has allowed the capture and export of up to 100 bottlenose dolphins a year. The 11 dolphins are estimated to be sold for $660,000 if they are each priced at $60,000 as was the case with the seven previous exported dolphins. The Government collects 25 per cent duty on the shipment.]

The company highlighted at the forum that this could jeopardize the tuna company’s plan to create more than 2000 jobs for locals in the country.

"Planned investments in the Solomon Islands are at great risk jeopardizing jobs of nearly 2000 Solomon Islanders," Frabelle representatives were quoted saying.

The tuna company rep said while the government still breaks international law catching dolphins without International Union For Conservation Of Nature (IUCN) and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) approval, the citizens of the Solomon Islands will continue to lack jobs and a future.

"It is time for this government to enter the 21st century and end this trade in dolphins once and for all."

Frabelle is based in Navatas City, Manila and has a fleet of tuna purse seine vessels and support vessels operating in the Philippines, Papua New Guinea and other Pacific Island nations.

They have canning facilities in Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Indonesia with markets in American Samoa, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Spain and Thailand to name a few.

Meanwhile, Don Wong executives who also attended the meeting were also reportedly disappointed with the Solomon Islands Government over the dolphin issue.

This was after their meeting with Government officials earlier this year in which the Government promised to address the dolphin issue in the country.

The recent planned export was also at the top of the agenda during the forum in which Solomon Islands was described as the only member state that is still catching and selling dolphins.

The two-day forum involves around 200 representatives from Pacific Island countries, major tuna companies, industry organizations and regional organizations.

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