Outrage over live dolphin exports from the Solomon Islands

A Solomon Islands fisherman says he plans to resume exporting live dolphins to countries like China and Dubai because the Government in Honiara has broken its promise.

Robert Satu says he was told he'd be compensated for putting a halt to his business, but he says he's still waiting to be paid.

The dolphins that respond to Mr Satu's dolphin calls will likely end up slaughtered for meat, or be exported alive to water parks around the world.

"I can't stop fishing," he says. "I can't stop hunting because it's a part of my family and community as a whole, to earn money."

Wearing a necklace of dolphin teeth, Mr Satu says he was taught to hunt as a 12-year-old.

"My great-granny was a fisherman and my dad was a fisherman."

Exporting live dolphins used to be allowed in the Solomon Islands. 3 News filmed animals being loaded in crates onto a plane bound for Mexico in 2003.

Solomon Islands man to export Dolphine. Getty Image
After international outrage, the Government banned the practice.But Mr Satu says that's just talk and he's going to start again. He's already taken a call from China expressing interest.

"They want 100 heads," he says. "They say for the entertaining."

Mr Satu says he's owed millions by an environmental group and the Government who said they'd compensate him for stopping his business.

"They promised to pay me but there is no money," he says.

"I don't think it's justifiable in this day and age to ship an animal and torture it the way they do during transportation, just for money," says whale and dolphin biologist Dr Ingrid Visser. "It's disgusting."

Mr Satu claims he treats the dolphins like he would his own children.

Since 2004, Mr Satu says he's exported more than 60 dolphins. He understands why he's faced international criticism, but he says in the Solomon Islands hunting dolphins is a tradition that has spanned generations.

"It's my freedom," says Mr Satu. "It's our right, my right."

And Mr Satu says he'll continue to exercise that right.

3 News
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