By Seann Lenihann
Dolphin hunters in the Solomon Islands, dolphin broker Christopher Porter, and some far-right U.S. news media are blaming the Earth Island Institute Marine Mammal Project for the massacre of more than 1,000 dolphins in December 2012 and January 2013.
Ongoing coverage by the Solomon Star News, however, supports the Earth Island Institute contention that the dolphin hunters just got greedy, after three years of in effect holding dolphins for ransom. Earth Island Institute had issued $98,000 in grants meant to help dolphin hunters to develop new ways to make a living, but suspended the grant-making in April 2012––as required by U.S. law governing foreign grant-making by U.S. charities––after becoming aware that the money was not being distributed as intended.
An overt dolphins- for-ransom scheme followed. Dolphin captures for sale resumed, and then dolphin killing on an apparently unprecedented scale, after Western Province premier George Solingi Lilo warned that any further attempts to hold dolphins for ransom would be prosecuted.
“Earth Island Institute failed to pay $237,000, the remaining part of the $335,000 it had promised to compensate the people of Fanalei and Walande for refraining from their traditional hunting and killing of dolphins for a period of two years,” the Fanalei Honiara Based Association charged in a prepared statement. The money, the FHBA claimed, was to be paid “for doing away with trading dolphin meat and teeth as their major source of earning money.”
The killing erupted, the Solomon Star News reported, with the slaughter of 134 dolphins at Ata’a in North East Malaita province in early December 2012. Then more than 700 dolphins were killed during the third week in January 2013, and another 300 on January 24, Fanalei chief Willson Filei told the Solomon Star News.
Politics of massacre
“I spoke out against the hunt,” Filei said, “but the villagers were encouraged by Fanalei Honiara Based Association members, who have been working against the Earth Island Institute project in Fanalei since day one of establishing the agreement. They were badly influenced,” Filei emphasized. More....