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Tuesday, 16 November 2004
Page: 100

Senator Brown asked the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, upon notice, on 15 July 2004:

(1) What steps has the Minister taken to ascertain the welfare of 28 dolphins held in captivity off Gavutu Island in the Solomon Islands.

(2) (a) Did a former naval attach officer to the Australian High Commissioner in Honiara transport dolphins from Fanalei to the Gavutu Island seapen for the benefit of dolphin traders; and (b) is it correct that a number of these dolphins died in transit and that more died subsequently in the seapen.

(3) Has the former naval attach officer applied for an export licence for dolphins from the Solomon Islands Government.

(4) Is the former naval attach officer in breach of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999; if so, what steps are being taken to charge the formal naval attach officer.

(5) Is it correct that Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands police officers have, on a number of occasions, gone to Gavutu Island to swim with these dolphins.

(6) Is it correct that: (a) 74 dolphins were recently captured and held in a seapen off the industrial estate in Honiara; and (b) 64 of these dolphins have been exported.

(7) What steps has the Government taken to investigate the recent captures.

(8) To which country or countries have these 64 dolphins been exported.

Senator Ian Campbell (Minister for the Environment and Heritage) —The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

(1) The Australian Government has been closely monitoring the situation and was advised in September 2003 by a team of experts from the World Conservation Union/ Species Survival Commission (IUCN/SSC) Cetacean and Veterinary Specialist Group that the captive dolphins were being held in adequate conditions and appeared healthy.

Updated information is currently being sought through the appropriate authorities.

(2) (a) This allegation is currently under investigation.

(b) This allegation is currently under investigation.

(3) See (2) above.

(4) See (2) above.

(5) I am not aware of this.

(6) I am not aware of this.

(7) See (6) above

(8) See (6) above.