Solomons seeks to prevent mass dolphin killings

The Solomon Islands on Friday urged villagers to stop the mass slaughter of dolphins, saying the traditional practice was damaging the Pacific nation's tourism industry.

Locals in the village of Fanalei killed about 750 dolphins last month, saying they acted after US-based conservation group the Earth Island Institute failed to provide funds promised under a 2010 agreement to stop the cull.

Tourism Minister Samuel Manetoali declined to comment on the row between the villagers and the conservationists but said he wanted the killings to stop because they were harming the Solomons' international reputation.

"This has given us so much bad press overseas it is impacting our tourism market, especially from Australia and New Zealand," he told AFP, adding that he planned to travel to Fanalei for discussions with tribal chiefs.

Dolphin hunts are traditional in areas of the Solomons, where their teeth have long been used as a form of currency. In recent years, villagers have also captured live dolphins and exported them to marine entertainment parks.

"It's a sensitive issue as these people depend on this traditional practice but there are now modern expectations," Manetoali said.

"So whatever we discuss and agree to has to be a win-win situation for the country as a whole and the communities concerned."

He said the killings were "a big setback for tourism", which received a boost last September when Britain's Prince William and wife Catherine visited the Solomons on a trip marking Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee.

The Earth Island Institute has denied breaking its agreement with the villagers, blaming the killings on a "renegade" group of locals who were acting in defiance of tribal chiefs.

  • COMMENT: Xenophobia rears its ugly head in Singapore once more Sat, Apr 19, 2014
    COMMENT: Xenophobia rears its ugly head in Singapore once more

    Kirsten Han is a Singaporean blogger, journalist and filmmaker. She is also involved in the We Believe in Second Chances campaign for the abolishment of the death penalty. A social media junkie, she tweets at @kixes. The views expressed are … Continue reading →

  • Driving a $900,000 Porsche 918 Spyder to the future Sat, Apr 19, 2014
    Driving a $900,000 Porsche 918 Spyder to the future

    It’s more than just its inherent speed, or the whooshing noise that fills the cabin like a school choir jamming with James Hetfield. It’s what it represents in an industry full of skeptics. It’s a portal into the future – a time capsule left by some mad scientist born decades too soon. It’s something that shouldn’t exist. And yet it does.

  • Malaysia Airlines jet turns back after tire burst
    Malaysia Airlines jet turns back after tire burst

    KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — A Malaysia Airlines flight heading to India with 166 people aboard made an emergency landing in Kuala Lumpur early Monday after it was forced to turn back when a tire burst upon takeoff, the airline said.

  • COMMENT: Xenophobia rears its ugly head in Singapore once more
    COMMENT: Xenophobia rears its ugly head in Singapore once more

    Kirsten Han is a Singaporean blogger, journalist and filmmaker. She is also involved in the We Believe in Second Chances campaign for the abolishment of the death penalty. A social media junkie, she tweets at @kixes. The views expressed are … Continue reading →