This is in response to the letter by Resorts World Singapore (RWS) last 22 November 2011 through Mr. Lim Soon Hua, the RWS Director for Communications.
We beg to disagree that the method they used to obtain the dolphins conforms to CITES requirements. In fact, the export of dolphins from the Solomon Islands was put under the Review of Significant Trade in the Animals Committee of CITES in 2008 due to the issue of sustainability.
In that meeting in 2008, the Solomon Islands government committed to stopping the export of dolphins if it was proven to be unsustainable. This September 2011, the government of the Solomon Islands announced that all dolphin exports will be banned starting January 2012, an admission that the past dolphin hunts have been largely unregulated and unsustainable.
It is also doubtful that the facility where the dolphins are being kept is truly a ‘well established facility’. The Ocean Adventure Park which houses the dolphins has had 4 out of its 5 false killer whales die in just a few years of operation. All four false killer whales were all juveniles and died before they were sexually mature.
Moreover, Ocean Adventure has been sued for the violation of the Environmental Impact Statement System of the Philippines (PD 1586) as well as the violation of the Animal Welfare Act (RA 8485), a well established facility, indeed!
As for the 25 dolphins from the Solomon Islands, none of the government officials from the Philippine Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and Bureau of Animal Industry-Animal Welfare Division (BAI-AWD) can verify their current condition based on our meetings with these two agencies. In fact, both the BFAR and BAI-AWD have not inspected the dolphins in their facility and could not even tell us if all 25 dolphins are alive.
If the animals are really being given the best care, then why are their enclosures off-limits to the public? Why were members of the Animal Concerns Education and Research Society of Singapore (ACRES), Earth Island Institute (EII) and the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) not allowed to see the animals as they were being trained last 14 November? It is clear that Ocean Adventure and Resorts World Singapore have something to hide, and it is spelled C-R-U-E-L-T-Y.
ACRES to RWS: Set the record straight
I refer to the letter "Dolphins bound for Singapore park not endangered" (Inquirer 11/22/11).
Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) states it believes in "controlled collection of particular species" and that it complied with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
However, can RWS clarify if it conducted proper scientific studies into the status of the Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins in the Solomon Islands prior to their capture?
Can RWS scientifically state that its capture of the 27 dolphins was not detrimental to the survival of this species in the Solomon Islands?
Lastly, does RWS agree with the statement that the preference for Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins as a captive display species "makes them vulnerable to depletion from such catches"?
Due to the lack of scientific data, the world conservation union IUCN urged CITES parties in 2007 to not issue import permits for dolphins captured in the Solomon Islands (www.ssn.org/Documents/IUCN_CSG_to_CITES.pdf).
The National Museum and The Silliman University (the Philippines CITES Scientific Authorities for marine and aquatic species) similarly opposed the import of the RWS wild-caught dolphins into the Philippines.
The National Museum stated “The National Museum…firmly opposes this illicit activity. This must not be tolerated”.
The Silliman University stated (referring to the RWS dolphins importation) “the importation should not have been allowed. The Non-Detrimental Finding (NDF) is not credible… the Philippines by allowing these importations under the cover of a non-credible NDF may well be participating in the unsustainable exploitation of a marine mammal, something at odds with our national policy (under law) of protecting marine mammals”.
The importion of the dolphins into the Philippines should never have been allowed in accordance with Section 6 of the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act or RA 9147. The reality is that the import took place without the "proper evaluation of best available information or scientific data showing that the activity is, or for a purpose, not detrimental to the survival of the species or subspecies involved and/or their habitat..."
ACRES hopes that the Philippines government rights this wrong and repatriates these dolphins back to the Solomon Islands where we can rehabilitate and release them back into the wild. We should note that the Solomon Islands government has already passed a new policy to ban the export of live dolphins, beginning January next year.
ACRES wholeheartedly supports the establishment of the Marine Life Park, but we hope that RWS opens a park that focuses on ethical acquisition of animals, the keeping of animals that can cope with captivity and a park that focuses on proper, in-situ conservation efforts.
Louis Ng (MSc)
91 Jalan Lekar
(O): +65 6892 9821
(F): +65 6892 9721
For more information on the campaign "Save the World's Saddest Dolphins", please visit the official website SaddestDolphins.com
Or refer to my Blog Page "Save World's Saddest Dolphins"