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Dolphin owner to sue gov’t

THE Management of Solmarine Mammal Breeding Centre says it is taking legal action against the government over the raid done to its dolphin research facility on Mbungana, Gela, last Saturday.

Officials from the Ministry of Fisheries and police in Honiara raided the facility and released 27 dolphins kept in pens by Solmarine.

“Solmarine has not received any complaint from the Fisheries Department from day one of its operations,” the company, owned by the country’s only veterinary Dr Baddeley Anita, said in a statement.

“But last Saturday’s event was a disaster,” it added.

“Our six years of work was destroyed in fifteen minutes.

It’s understood Dr Anita has a licence to operate the facility, which was issued by the Environment Division.

Central Province had also issued Dr Anita a licence to operate in the province.

But Fisheries authorities said the caging of the live dolphins was against the Fisheries Act.

Earlier last week the Ministry’s compliance officers stationed at Noro with assistance from Police had also conducted a similar raid at a location at Kolombangara Island in the Western province and released a number of dolphins that were kept in a pen there.

Authorities suspect the operators of the Kolombangara holding pen may be the ones supplying dolphins to Dr Anita.

According to the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources (MFMR), the current Regulation Prohibit any exports of dolphins, therefore any person who catches for sale and retain in captivity for sale, exports any live dolphin or operates a dolphin holding facility for the purposes for sale or export, commits an offence and is liable for a fine under this Regulation which is $500,000 or imprisonment for two years or both.

The ministry said investigation into the incidents is continuing and perpetrators could be charged once investigations are completed.

By STEPHEN DIISANGO