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Bita’ama ends dolphin torture, now plans to move into tourism

People of Bita’ama in North Malaita Malaita have promised to cease killing of dolphins for food consumption and plans to convert their traditional hunting of dolphins to become a tourism attraction.

This was revealed during a high level delegation visit led by Culture and Tourism Minister Bartholomew Parapolo to Bita’ama village on Tuesday.

The delegation included Permanent Secretary John Wasi, Tourism Director Barney Sivoro, Chief Executive officer for Solomon Island Visitors Bureau (SIVB) Josefa Tuamoto, SIVB Board Chairman Wilson Ne’e, an Officer from Ausaid, MCT Consultant Andrew Nihopara and three seniors Ministry officers.

During the visit, the delegation was given an opportunity to visit few tourism operators in Bita’ama, the historical sites and the proposed development site where three tribes in Bita’ama have allocated for development.

Speaking to the Solomon Star during the visit Movin Kuta a rep for Suri tribe said, that three tribes of Bita’ama have agreed to stop the hunting of dolphins.

 “Now we are looking into turning this dolphin hunting to become something that can give benefits back into our community,” Mr Kuta said.

He said in 2011 Bitaa’ma community had signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Earth Island to stop hunting of dolphin.

“Since 2011 we sign an MOU with Earth Island Institute to stop the physical hunting of dolphin until today.

“This was agreed and signed by three tribes here in Bita’ama to stop the  hunt of dolphins, now  we’ll  swim with the dolphins promoting it as our friend but no more killing of  dolphins  in Bitaama,” he said.

He added since the MOU was signed with Earth islands to stop dolphin harvesting Bita’ama people were frustrated because some conditions inside the MOU was not considered by the Earth Islands.

 “But now people have agreed not to harvest or kill dolphins but to promote it dolphins so that visitors can come and watch it,” he said.

He acknowledged the visit by the high level delegation which goes in line with their development plan.

“This visit is important to us to see our plans in transforming this dolphin harvesting to become a tourism attraction.”

The rep from Suri tribe added they are looking into economically harvesting of dolphins to bring income for Bita’ama community.

Permanent Secretary Wasi told the people of Bita’ama said, that North Malaita people are hardworking people.

“Bita’ama you are hardworking people and can make things happen to generate an income in your community.

“Our purpose of visit here is to see a product in your  community and see operators and how the Ministry can assist them this year,” Mr Wasi said.

He told the gathering that Bita’ama will be included in the Ministry’s program this year.

“I would like to assure Bita’ama community that operators here will be included in the MCT program. This year we have a local consultant that will visit the community and conduct and profile of your product.

 “So please first you must be united and let us work together. We have seen that there are many issues that needed to be addressed like infrastructure and so my ministry will liaises with responsible ministry concern to address  these issues,” Mr Wasi said.

He added, the Ministry will also work closely with Malaita provincial government to carry out the awareness program and tourism training in rural areas.

 “Here you have all the products like dolphins hunting which my Ministry will try to help in turning dolphin hunting to become one of the tourism attractions in Malaita. Therefore my Ministry will partner with you to start off our work here so that we can be able to achieve our plans and visions in Bita’ama,” Mr Wasi.

By DENVER NEWTER