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News | Protecting Solomons Islands Dolphins Through Eco-Tourism | Marine Mammal Project
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Protecting Solomons Islands Dolphins Through Eco-Tourism

| Lawrence Makili, Pacific Island Director, Int'l Marine Mammal Project
Topics: Dolphin and Whale Trade, Dolphins

I am so happy to report that Earth Island is participating with joint meetings alongside the Solomon’s government and the people of Bita-ama to help assist a plan by the villagers to support eco-tourism in Bita-ama on the island of Malaita with dolphin watching as a key part.

Bita-ama used to kill dolphins for food and teeth for many, many years. And also caught some live dolphins for export. After years of talk, the village leaders came to me to agree to stop killing dolphins with support from Earth Island.  We assisted with supplying them a small lumber mill and fuel to run it.  This helped them rebuild the village meeting hall and some other buildings. And more needs to be done.

I’ve been meeting with the villagers ever since, and this year, the leaders came up with a plan to develop eco-tourism that recognizes the beauty and value of wild dolphins off the shore and the cultural importance that dolphins have always had for the village.  Earth Island's Lawrence Makili addresses the villagers of Bita-ama and visiting representatives from the central Solomons government.

The most exciting part is that the Solomon Islands government has given approval to the idea.  They are seeing this as a joint effort with villagers, some funding from the government, and expertise and involvement from Earth Island Institute.  This will be the first such project ever undertaken by the government.

I see this as a win-win-win-win – for the villagers, for the government, for EII, and of course for the dolphins.

Yes, it is just a beginning, but a good beginning.  Plans are being made and a memorandum of understanding is being drafted to start the process.

It is exciting for me to be here representing Earth Island on something that has the chance to offer a good future for villagers and for dolphins.  It is never easy, but I hope that we may bring some success that other Solomon Island villages will also want to consider. 

Lawrence Makili with the villagers of Bita-ama.