For use of the media only;
not an official document.
Geneva, 30 July 2003
Trade in live dolphins
from the Solomon Islands to Mexico
On 15 May 2003, the CITES Management Authority of Mexico requested
advice from the CITES Secretariat in relation to two export permits
that had been issued by the Ministry of Forests, Environment and
Conservation in the Solomon Islands. These authorized the export
of 120 specimens of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus).
This species is listed in Appendix II of the Convention, which
means that it can be traded internationally if the provisions
of Article IV of CITES are complied with, notably if the export
is found to be non-detrimental to the survival of the species
by a designated scientific authority.
The Solomon Islands is not a Party to the Convention. However,
its government has previously advised the CITES Secretariat that
its Ministry of Forests, Environment and Conservation is competent
to issue documents comparable to those required by CITES. It has
also designated a scientific institution capable of advising that
an export is not detrimental to the survival of the species.
The Secretariat in its reply to the CITES Management Authority
of Mexico noted that it had no information regarding the harvesting
of dolphins in the Solomon Islands or how its government managed
trade in the species. It also pointed out that there have been
several cases of mortality in the shipment of dolphins in recent
years and that trade in the species has attracted considerable
criticism from international conservation and animal welfare organizations.
The Secretariat noted that a considerable number of specimens
were intended for trade and wished to be informed about the purpose
of the trade.
The Secretariat, in view of the above, recommended that Mexico:
- seek confirmation from the Solomon Islands that the documents
were authentic and valid;
- seek information regarding the non-detriment finding made
by the authorities in the Solomon Islands and a finding that
the animals would be legally obtained;
- seek confirmation that the transport would be conducted in
a manner that would comply with either the IATA Regulations
or the CITES guidelines on transport of live specimens; and
- because of the history of high mortality, confirm that the
intended recipient(s) was (were) suitably equipped to house
and care for such a large number of specimens (even though this
would not normally be required for an Appendix-II species).
The Secretariat was of the opinion that until Mexico received
further information from the Solomon Islands addressing the points
raised by the Secretariat, the imports should not be allowed.
A copy of the Secretariat’s advice to Mexico was sent to
the Solomon Islands.
The Secretariat understands that its advice was followed and
that Mexico subsequently received from the Solomon Islands information
addressing the points of concern. The Secretariat has asked Mexico
for a copy of the Solomon Islands’ response and this is
awaited. The Secretariat has also written to the Solomon Islands
seeking additional information.
If evidence is received that the requirement of CITES have not
been met, the Secretariat will not hesitate to recommend rejection
of export permits issued by the Solomon Islands.
The Secretariat will continue to monitor this trade and is seeking
additional information regarding aspects of it.
The Secretariat has encouraged the Solomon Islands on several
occasions to accede to the Convention, which would facilitate
more effective regulation of trade in wildlife from the country,
and hopes that it will do so soon.