Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A Confrontation and A Hopeful Sign

By Richard O’Barry, Director
Save Japan Dolphins Coalition

Today so far, we’ve visited the notorious Taiji Whaling Museum (in English, they call it the Taiji Whale Museum, but the Japanese is more descriptive: The Taiji Whaling Museum is the Japanese name. It is all about whaling and exploiting whales). We’ve also had a rather comical confrontation with the Japanese dolphin killing union. And I saw a sight that gives me great hope.

I was sickened by some of the tanks at the Taiji Whaling Museum – dolphins in very small sterile concrete and glass tanks with no environmental stimulation and nothing to do. Some of the whales and dolphins hung listlessly in the water, clearly in extremely stressful conditions. It is easy to feel sympathy for the thousands of dolphins that have been butchered under the most barbaric conditions imaginable, but I wonder if they are not the lucky ones who died quickly, rather than be brutally ripped away from their families to die a lingering death in a small tank. All to perform a few senseless “tricks” for the public’s amusement? I really can’t fathom that. I explained all this to the Japanese and international media who are with me for this tour of Taiji.

This is an aquarium that is represented by the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA)! How can such a run-down, poorly constructed facility be tolerated? How can WAZA continue to allow such a place as the Taiji Whaling Museum, which supports the slaughter of dolphins by paying huge amounts of money to the dolphin killers for a handful of show dolphins while their families are slaughtered for meat?

You can go to our main page and take action against WAZA and the international dolphin trafficking industry that is supporting and financing the largest slaughter of dolphins on Earth. WAZA needs to police its own members, or it must remove them from its membership umbrella:

We also had quite a confrontation. I had brought the international and Japanese media down to the harbor, showing them the drive fishery boats and the nets used by the dolphin killers to close off the Cove to keep the dolphins in. Lincoln, Mark Palmer and I decided to walk over to the local store in Taiji to get some water and other drinks for our journalists and film crew. The store is right across the street from the Fishermen’s Union office, and the head of the union ran out and blocked us from entering the store. He does not own the store, but he stood there in the doorway waving us off and shouting at us not to enter. Shortly, the cameras and reporters joined us, but he remained adamant, and the store even closed up, drawing its blinds, while we were outside trying to talk to him. He refused the interview requests from the TV stations there.

We backed off and left the area. There is no point in provoking the union and the angry dolphin killers. The Japanese and international media had a good look at how ugly the dolphin killers can get, and we hope they will tell this story to the world, and especially to the Japanese people.

The vast majority of Japanese people are absolutely wonderful. In Taiji, we have been repeatedly treated with kindness and hospitality. It is only 26 fishermen on 13 boats that engage in the slaughter of dolphins. We need to reach out and educate the Japanese people about the truth of the dolphin slaughter and the contamination of dolphin meat with mercury and other pollutants. Mercury poisoning is hurting the Japanese people, and they don’t even know it. We must save the dolphins AND save the Japanese children.

But there was one very important thing I also saw today that gives me great hope. It is a small thing, but it is still, I think, very important. I saw a small fishing boat come up to the dock and start unloading fish. Just a small thing, as I said, but the boat was tied up in front of the processing center used by the dolphin killers. And in all my years of coming to Taiji, day after day, this processing center, right next to the Fishermen’s Union office, has ONLY been used to process dead dolphins. Never fish.

Until today, Sept. 2nd, 2009, the second official day of the dolphin killing season. The Cove is still empty of any dolphins, and the processing center is now being used for fish, not dead dolphins.

Please help us by donating:

Click Here to Donate

Your donations and efforts are a key part of our success so far on this tour of Taiji. I am so grateful for your support.

We are here, on the ground in Taiji, and the dolphin killers know it. They are angry, but they are, nonetheless, using their facilities for fishing, not for dolphin killing.

This is an historic moment for the dolphins and whales of Japan. I sincerely thank you and ask you to join us in spirit for this return to Taiji.

The Save Japan Dolphins Coalition consists of Earth Island Institute, Elsa Nature Conservancy of Japan, OceanCare, In Defense of Animals, Campaign Whale, and the Animal Welfare Institute.

"Ric O’Barry explains about the dolphin drive fishery and slaughter for the Japanese and international media in Taiji."
Photograph Copyright Mark J. Palmer

"A store in Taiji closed and pulls down the blinds, rather than allow Ric O’Barry to enter to buy some drinks. The head of the Fisherman’s Union stood in the doorway and shouted at Ric, barring his entry."
Photograph Copyright Mark J. Palmer

"Ric and his son Lincoln O’Barry tell the Japanese and international media about the inadequacy of the dolphin tanks in the Taiji Whal(ing) Museum."
Photograph Copyright Mark J. Palmer

"Lincoln O’Barry and Ric examine a dolphin tank at the Taiji Whal(ing) Museum."
Photograph Copyright Mark J. Palmer

"The COVE, depicted in the movie The Cove, is empty of dolphins on Sept. 2nd, the second day of the dolphin slaughter season."
Photograph Copyright Mark J. Palmer

No comments: