Hands-Off Dolphin Advocates!

It is clearly ridiculous to file a case and persecute those who encourage compassion towards animals and those who protect marine wildlife. The Philippines, being a signatory to international conservation treaties, must keep wild animals in the wild and protect their habitats.

Support Dolphin Advocates

The Philippines has been flagged as a dangerous place for environmental activists. It is frustrating to note that that big corporations and greedy individuals are given almost blanket authority to plunder the environment while Earth defenders are continuously harassed persecuted, if not killed.

Dolphin advocates and those who uphold animal welfare are not exempt. They have been a target of persecution and harassment via SLAPP suits. SLAPP is a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation.

Environmentalists and animal welfare advocates in the Philippines are facing a SLAPP suit by Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) for filing a lawsuit to protect dolphins in 2012. Advocacy groups presented scientific evidence showing that dolphins imported into the Philippines from the Solomon Islands in 2008/2009 were from unsustainable sources, in violation of the Philippines Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act (RA 9147).

Instead of dismissing the SLAPP suit, the court, in a decision handed down in 2019, is now fining environmentalists and animal welfare groups for instituting an environmental protection case.

Our colleagues from the Earth Island Institute in the Philippines (EII-PH), along with the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), and numerous animal welfare and anti-animal captivity advocates, now find themselves at the receiving end of a case where the only thing they did was to launch an effective campaign upholding local laws on animal welfare and wildlife, as well as stop dolphin trafficking in the country.

It is clearly ridiculous to file a case and persecute those who encourage compassion towards animals and those who protect marine wildlife.

The Philippines, being a signatory to international conservation treaties, must keep wild animals in the wild and protect their habitats.

We call on all dolphin loving people to join us in this campaign. Ask Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) to drop the case against Philippine advocates and activists who are champions for animals.

Help us fight for the rights of environmental activists and marine mammal advocates.

The import permits granted by the Philippine government in 2008 and 2009 for 25 dolphins did not have the proper Non-Detriment Findings, or the scientific study which would prove that the harvest of the dolphins from the wild is sustainable.

A Chronology of Key Events Regarding the SLAPP Suit of Resorts World Sentosa against EII-Phils., PAWS, et. al. in the Philippines

The Solomon Islands in the South Pacific has been known to have communities undertaking dolphin hunts. According to scientists, this practice is confined to a few villages in the island of Malaita. Of the dolphin species targeted, it is mostly the spinner dolphins (Stenella longirostris) and pantropical spotted dolphins (Stenella attenuate) that have been the most common species targeted since the 1960s. These dolphins are being hunted traditionally for their teeth, which can be used as currency, bride price, adornment and lately for cash sale.


The Solomon Islands began capturing dolphins for export to dolphin parks. The species targeted are Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops aduncus) which are a different species from those targeted in traditional hunts.

The dolphins captured from the Solomon Islands were later exported to Mexico (2003), Dubai (2007), the Philippines (2008-2009), Malaysia (2009), China (2011) and Singapore (2012).

21 July 2003

Mexico imports 28 bottlenose dolphins captured in the waters surrounding the Solomon Islands.

Late August 2003

The Mexican government closed Parque Nizuc marine park, an aquatic theme park in the resort of Cancun which imported the dolphins from the Solomon Islands and was at the center of an international dispute over the trade in wild dolphins.

September 2003

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) wrote a letter calling on all parties to the CITES Treaty not to import the animals as there were no credible scientific studies indicating that the capture of the dolphins from the Solomon Islands were sustainable.

13 June 2007

The IUCN/SSC/CSG wrote letters to the CITES Secretariat W. Wijnstekers and Mr. Nollen Leni, Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources and Mr. J.D. Tausinga, Minister of Forestry, Environment and Conservation in the Solomon Islands, reminding them of the CSG’s conclusions regarding the trade in wild-caught dolphins from the Solomon Islands as documented in the CSG’s 2003 report. In addition, it reported that it was “not aware that any credible peer-reviewed studies of bottlenose dolphins have been undertaken in the Solomon Islands since 2003” and that, accordingly, it had “not changed the conclusion (it) reached in 2003 that a non-detriment finding under CITES is not possible for these populations, and that exports should not take place.

19-24 April 2008

In the 23rd Animals Committee Meeting of CITES Israel submits AC23 Doc. 8.5.1 proposing the selection of the Solomon Islands population of Tursiops aduncus for inclusion in the review of significant trade for consideration at the CITES Animals Committee meeting in Geneva, Switzerland. The document references the relevant CITES resolutions, references the findings of the CSG, and includes an annex which provide biological and ecological information about the bottlenose dolphins of the Solomon Islands. The document explicitly request that the CITES Animals Committee include the Solomon Islands population of Tursiops aduncus in the Review of Significant Trade in order to address concerns regarding Article IV requirements.

Israel eventually withdrew its proposal to include the Solomon Islands for review of significant trade of dolphins after the Solomon Island government agreed to participate in NDF and IUCN Workshops. Furthermore the Solomon Island representative said that “the Solomon Islands would stop exports if new scientific data showed them to be unsustainable.” AC23 Summary Record, Pages 15-16.


3 December 2008

Department of Agriculture issues Special Import Permit for an initial 7 dolphins from the Solomon Islands.

8 December 2008

Eight (8) bottlenose dolphins arrive from the Solomon Islands. An import permit for 18 animals was issued by the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture.

The animals were trained by the Ocean Adventure Park in Subic for re-export to the Resorts World in Sentosa, Singapore.

16 December 2008

EII-Phils. and PAWS meet with the CITES Management Authority/Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR-Philippines) to inform them about the IUCN recommendation and the issue behind the export of dolphins from the Solomon Islands.

BFAR maintains that the issuance of the import permits are legal, while admitting that they do not know the IUCN recommendation as well as the issue of live dolphin captures in the Solomon Islands. According to BFAR, while the exporting country must issue an NDF, the importing country may or may not require this in the importation of the species. In the case of all 18 dolphins imported from the Solomon Islands, the Philippine government, through the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) did not request the SI government to provide the NDF, nor confer with the CITES secretariat in Geneva regarding the status of the animals in the wild.

8 January 2009

Twelve international conservation and marine organizations write to Philippine officials outlining the many issues concerning the importation of animals from the Solomon Islands.

15 January 2009

Eleven more dolphins from the SI for the Ocean Adventures Park in Subic. This brings to 18 the total number of animals imported from the SI.

4 November 2010

EII-Phils. PAWS, the Marine Mammal Wildlife Watch and the Bangon Kalikasan Movement apart from individual supporters, present a position paper at the NAFCI Meeting (National Agriculture and Fisheries Council) to urge the Department of Agriculture to ban the import of dolphins from the Solomon Islands.

January 2011

7 dolphins originally from the SI arrive in the Phils from Langkawi, Malaysia. Prior to this, two dolphins have died in Langkawi Malaysia.

1 January 2012

Solomon Islands bans the export of dolphins. This ban remains to this day.

June 2012

Oremus et al forwards the Progress Report on the genetic and demographic assessment of dolphin taken in live-capture and traditional drive hunt in the Solomon Islands. Part of the Summary of the study reads

Total abundance estimates f r o m closed-population capture recapture models suggest that each s t u d y site shelters a population in t he l ow hundreds (about 100 to 300 individuals) but estimates were not precise for Malaita. Over the four sites, total abundance was about 700-1300 dolphins. Calculations of the Potential Biological Removal (PBR), used to set limits for anthropogenic removals under the US Marine Mammal Act, are low; one dolphin every five years for Guadalcanal and Florida Islands and one dolphin every two and a half years for Santa Isabel and Malaita. On the basis of the PBR, the authorized export quota of 50 dolphins/year is likely to be unsustainable and some populations (e.g., Guadalcanal) have likely been depleted since the beginning of live capture in 2003.

12 October 2012

Environmentalists and animal welfare groups (EII-Phils., PAWS, CARA) as well as individual advocates file a case questioning the import permits of the animals citing violations in the Wildlife Act (RA 9147). The case was directed at the Department of Agriculture (DA), Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and Resorts World Sentosa (RWS). The main contention of the case is that all 25 animals in the Philippines were imported in violation of the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act or RA 9147.

The act of importing the animals from the Solomon Islands violates the following section of RA 9147:

Section 6. Wildlife Information. All activities, as subsequently manifested under this Chapter, shall be authorized by the Secretary upon 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. For this purpose, the Secretary shall regularly update wildlife information through research (underscoring supplied).

Evidence presented include IUCN’s Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphin Assessment Workshop Report (August 2008), concurring opinions from the Philippine CITES Scientific Authorities such as the Silliman University and National Museum, CITES Animals Committee Meeting Summary of Record, as well as a scientific study of the Solomon Island Government in June 2012.

12 October 2012

Acting Executive Judge Bernelito Fernandez grants petitioners EII-Phils., PAWS et al a 72 hour Temporary Environmental Protection Order (TEPO) which basically freezes any action to export the dolphins.

17 October 2012

Environmental Court Judge Evangeline Marigomen conducts a hearing on whether or not to extend the TEPO. She later does not extend the TEPO, saying that the petitioners have not shown any violation in the law.

Petitioners EII-PHILS., PAWS et al file a motion for reconsideration.

November 2012

RWS transports 11 dolphins to Singapore in blatant disregard for the court proceedings in the Philippines.

21 November 2012

Petitioners EII-PHILS.. et.al. file a Very Urgent Manifestation and Motion to ask the court to issue a TEPO and to prevent any further export of dolphins. Furthermore, petitioners ask the court to cite in contempt the DA, BFAR and RWS for exporting the dolphins despite an on-going hearing for a Motion for Reconsideration.

21 November 2012

The remaining 14 dolphins were transported to Singapore with one dolphin, ten-year old Wen-Wen dying before reaching Singapore.

4 December 2012

RWS files a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPPs) counterclaim against EII-PHILS.. et.al. for 4,000,000 PHP (~$90,200)

25 March 2013

Petitioners EII-Phils. et.al. responds to the SLAPPs charge by RWS and in turn asks the court for damages amounting to 2,100,000 PHP (~$47,200).

February 2015

Republic Act No. 8550 is amended to Republic Act 10654 - An Act To Prevent, Deter And Eliminate Illegal, Unreported And Unregulated Fishing, Amending Republic Act No. 8550, Otherwise Known As "The Philippine Fisheries Code Of 1998," And For Other Purposes. This law contains the following provisions:

Section 102 (b) It shall be unlawful to fish, take, catch, gather, sell, purchase, possess, transport, export, forward or ship out aquatic species listed in CITES Appendices II and III if scientific assessments show that population of the species in the wild cannot remain viable under pressure of collection and trade: Provided, That the taking or fishing of these species from the wild for scientific research, or conservation breeding simultaneous with commercial breeding may be allowed

22 May 2019

In a decision received 14 August 2019 by plaintiffs Earth Island Institute Philippines (EII-Phils.), Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), et. al., Regional Trial Court Judge Evangeline Castillo-Marigomen upholds the counterclaim of RWS and fines EII- Phils, PAWS et., al the amount of P800,000 ($15,385) for moral and exemplary damages for filing the case in 2012 seeking to implement the Wildlife Act of the Philippines.

The environmental and animal welfare groups maintain that the counterclaim of RWS is a SLAPP suit and will appeal the case.

The counterclaim of RWS is a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPPs) suit aimed to harass and intimidate environmental groups into silence. Under the Rules for Environmental Procedure, SLAPP suits are illegal and should be dismissed instantly.