October 27, 2010
Ric O’Barry Of Earth Island Institute to Participate in Public Discussion with Mayor of Taiji about Dolphin Hunts
Ric O’Barry, long-time dolphin activist for Earth Island Institute and subject of the Oscar-Winning THE COVE, has accepted an invitation to participate in a public discussion about dolphin hunting with Taiji Mayor Kazutaka Sangen, members of the fisheries union and other anti-dolphin hunting groups.
The event, which will take place at 10 a.m., Nov. 2 at the Taiji Community Center, is being organized by a leader in the conservative Nihon Yonaoshikai and founder of the newly formed Association to Contemplate Taiji’s Dolphin Hunt. The purpose is to bring together city officials and the groups who oppose dolphin hunting with the hopes that they can find common ground. The event is open to the media.
Earth Island has a long track record of working with local communities to develop viable alternatives to killing dolphins. Most recently the Earth Island team, led by O’Barry, worked with tribes in the Solomon Islands to end their drive hunts. Primitive and remote, dolphin teeth are so engrained in the local culture there that their teeth are used as currency. But now, after 450 years, the majority of tribes have agreed to stop.
“When we first went to the Solomons, we didn’t know what to expect. For so many years, these local villagers have subsisted on dolphin meat,” explained David Phillips, Executive Director of Earth Island Institute. “Many people there didn’t know how toxic the meat was. After all, it’s a relatively new phenomena brought on by industrial pollution. Much like Taiji, the meat they were eating just 50 years ago didn’t contain the same levels of mercury.”
In fact, its Japanese researchers who have done extensive testing on this issue - in Japan, and Taiji specifically - showing that the mercury levels present a serious danger to the health of the public. For research results, go to: http://www.savejapandolphins.org/pdf/MercuryReport.pdf.
“However, in the Solomon’s they don’t just rely on dolphins for sustenance, they are significant part of their traditions and economy,” continued Phillips. “So we talked, we listened, and in time – working hand in hand with the villagers – we came up with solutions that are not only workable, but enable them to thrive. For instance, we are helping them develop an artisanal fishery and other steps for clean water and power for their villages.”
It’s Earth Island’s hope that we can find a similar spirit of collaboration in Taiji.
“There is a bright future for Taiji without the killing of dolphins,” Ric O’Barry added. “We hope Mayor Sangen has an open mind during this meeting and will see that we can work together for a better future for the dolphins and the people of Taiji.”