In a surprise move, dolphin expert Ric O’Barry, of the French animal rights organization One Voice, walked into Friday’s Commission meeting wearing a TV set showing footage of Japan’s violent dolphin slaughter in Taiji and Futo. Without sound or saying a word, O’Barry paraded the footage in front of the astonished Japanese delegation and the entire Commission. Security quickly escorted O’Barry and his TV get-up out of the meeting, followed by a parade of TV cameras and reporters.
One Voice France has joined with Earth Island Institute and Elsa Nature Appeal of Japan in bringing the plight of Taiji’s dolphins to the world’s attention. This coalition seeks to end the tragic slaughter of dolphins in Taiji and other areas of the world.
O’Barry trained the dolphins used in the popular 1960s US television program "Flipper." His experience with those dolphins convinced him that dolphins should never be kept in captivity or treated inhumanely. Most Japanese agree with him and are horrified to learn that the Japanese Fisheries Agency still allows the herding and bloody slaughter of thousands of dolphins annually. The dirty secret of the inhumane killing is that the international captive dolphin industry, representing aquariums and swim-with-dolphins programs, subsidizes the Taiji slaughter by annually buying a handful of the "best" animals from the drive fishery for captivity at enormous prices. Meat from the slaughtered animals has been shown to be high in mercury, PCB’s, and other dangerous toxins, yet it is often sold in Japan mislabeled as "whale meat." A number of representatives from Taiji have reportedly joined the Japanese delegation this year to push for renewed coastal whaling of minke and Bryde’s whales, in addition to the annual dolphin slaughter.
O’Barry turned up again outside the IWC meeting as it broke for the evening yesterday. Security again intervened, charging this time that O’Barry could not do what he was doing without permission from the Marriott Corporation. Of course, O’Barry asked what he was doing? This was a peaceful protest in the spirit of Martin Luther King to show the IWC delegates what the slaughter of dolphins looked like, up close and personal, according to O’Barry. A crowd swirled around O’Barry composed of delegates heading to their hotel rooms, members of the public curious to see the footage, media representatives and security agents. O’Barry was slowly escorted back to his room in the hotel.
O’Barry wants the world to see the dolphin slaughter, so the people of the world can decide for themselves whether or not Japan should continue this barbaric hunt. O’Barry hopes his efforts will help get the word out. He has copies of the DVD "Welcome to Taiji" which documents the annual slaughter of dolphins.
For further information on the Taiji dolphin slaughter and the coalition’s work, go to: www.SaveTaijiDolphins.org
Another close vote was lost by the Japanese delegation yesterday on their perennial effort to promote "small-type coastal whaling," which is in reality commercial whaling for hundreds of whales by modern factory ships.
The only thing small about small-type coastal whaling is that, having slaughtered all the large whales in Japanese waters long ago, only small minke whales and dolphins are left.
The Japanese Fisheries Agency proposed a kill of 150 minke whales annually through 2008, in addition, of course, to the thousands of whales they are already killing for "scientific research."
Thirty-one countries said no to Japan’s attempt to renew commercial whaling, while only 30 voted in favor. As an amendment to the IWC Schedule, Japan needed a 75% vote, which of course they are nowhere near reaching.
Several countries abstained from the vote, including China, Kirbati, the Republic of Korea, and the Solomon Islands. Several of these countries have often voted in favor of Japan’s positions in the past.
After the vote, an angry Joji Morishita of the Japanese Fisheries Agency told the Commisison: "The double-standard still prevails in this organization." He then pulled off the agenda a second proposal from Japan to have coastal whalers go after Bryde’s whales, knowing full well that that vote was also doomed.
Japan has argued strenuously during this and previous IWC meetings that votes should be on Secret Ballots, in order to protect countries from their positions in favor of Japan’s and Norway’s whale hunts.
But Japanese Fisheries Agency’s IWC delegate Joji Morishita, during his presentation to renew commercial whaling of minke whales off the Japanese coast, implied his own double-standard in the IWC.
"Japanese will remember who supported us (on the coastal whaling vote) and who voted no," he declared.
Who is threatening whom?
The government of St. Kitts and Nevis has been a gracious host, and the island charms have impressed us all.
But their IWC delegation leaves much to be desired. Consider their votes in favor of Japan, despite the strong opposition of the people of St. Kitts to renewal of commercial whaling.
Or consider the so-called "St. Kitts and Nevis Declaration" submitted by St. Kitts but clearly orchestrated by Japan and Norway.
St. Kitts could have taken the high road and worked this week for real understanding for whales. If indeed the government agents of St. Kitts want to ignore their own people and push a whaling program, even that could have been handled with respect and adherence to science.
But the "declaration" instead quotes phony science to claim that whales eat more fish than humans do, a ploy by Japanese scientists who know better. Whales may indeed eat more fish than humans, but studies have repeatedly shown that the vast majority of these fish species are not harvested by humans, and that overfishing by Japan and other nations is the cause for depleted fisheries humans depend on around the world.
The "declaration" further rejects "as unacceptable that a number of NGOs with self-interest campaigns should use threats in an attempt to direct government policy on matters of sovereign rights related to the use of resources for food security and national development." NGOs do not threaten, and they certainly have every right to "attempt to direct" government policy-that is the definition of democracy. Certainly the fisheries agency bureaucrats and the whaling industry have not been shy about "trying to direct" government policy. And NGOs, if they were "self-interested" as claimed by the declaration, would not work for NGOs, but would rather work for "for-profit" organizations that have a lot more money and give much better salaries and benefits!
This sad declaration ends by using Japan’s wording on "normalization" once again to mean turning back the clock so Japan can kill more whales. St. Kitts is doing Japan’s dirty work, and such biased and wrong-headed declarations demean this beautiful country and its people.
In the Japanese fishing village of Taiji, fishermen are rounding up and slaughtering hundreds and even thousands of dolphins right now.
After driving pods of dolphins into shallow coves, the fishermen kill the dolphins, slashing their throats with knives or stabbing them with spears. Thrashing about, the dolphins take as long as six minutes to die. The water turns red with their blood and the air fills with their screams.
This brutal massacre-the largest scale dolphin kill left in the world-goes on for six months of every year. Even more shocking, the captive dolphin industry is an accomplice to the kill.
Recently, the Town Council of Taiji exported eight female bottlenose dolphins to an aquarium in Dalian, China, under the pretext of "academic exchange." All of these dolphins were captured by drive hunts. Seven of them were captured in February this year, and one was captured in January, 2004. The total selling price of the eight dolphins is US$375,000, nearly seven times higher than the price Taiji Town purchased them from the local Fishing Cooperative that caught them in the first place.
Last year Taiji Town/Taiji Whale Museum exported eight dolphins that had been caught from the drive hunt to Dalian, China. The selling price was approximately US$400,000, which was seven times higher than the buying price from the fishermen.
Unless we stop this trade, dolphins will be continuously exported from Taiji, and the cruel method of the drive hunt will continue in Japan in order to replenish dolphins to the captive industry. The overwhelming number of dolphins that do not enter the aquarium trade are slaughtered for sale in meat markets.
For further information on the Taiji Dolphins: www.SaveTaijiDolphins.org.
The debate about Dolphin Safe tuna standards is effectively over. In spite of strenuous efforts to weaken the standards, Dolphin Safe still means no chasing, netting or killing dolphins around the globe. For more than 16 years, the leaders of the international canned tuna industry have maintained a dolphin-safe standard based on non-encirclement of dolphins. Since 1990, Earth Island Institute has monitored tuna supplies around the world to ensure that tuna verifiably meets these standards.
The Dolphin Safe international non-encirclement standards have now been adopted by more than 90 percent of the world’s tuna consuming nations. US federal courts have repeatedly upheld these standards as the only scientifically defensible standard to protect dolphins.
Over the past seven years, scientists from the U.S. government have determined that dolphin populations in the Eastern Tropical Pacific (ETP), where net sets on dolphins are still allowed, are not recovering as expected, likely due to unreported deaths and injuries caused by chasing and netting of dolphins. Even if no dolphins are actually observed killed in nets, this does not guarantee no dolphins were harassed or killed. For example, female dolphins are often separated from their dependent young, and disoriented dolphins released from nets become prey to sharks. The chase by helicopters and speed boats, capture in purse seine nets, and release of dolphins is a traumatic, hours-long process, and some schools of dolphins are chased and caught as often as three times in a single day. Tuna caught by chasing and netting dolphins can never honestly be considered Dolphin Safe.
In October 2004, US federal Judge Thelton Henderson issued a 51-page decision upholding the Dolphin Safe standards of no encirclement, ruling that the US Bush Administration ignored their own scientists in trying to weaken the standards. This case has now been appealed to the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Observers fully expect this court will uphold the current strong standards. The scientific record is clearly against the Bush Administration and others who wish to weaken international dolphin safe standards supported by environmentalists and tuna companies.
For further information on Dolphin Safe tuna: www.DolphinSafe.org.
With this morning’s discussion in the IWC moving toward consideration of new whale sanctuaries, the US has just established a new reserve encompassing 140,000 square miles, from the Hawi’ian Islands to Midway Atoll.
The new reserve, technically a National Monument established under the US Antiquities Act, was inspired by President Bush’s special screening of a film by Jean-Michel Cousteau.
In addition to coral reefs and marine habitats, the reserve also includes millions of nesting seabirds and sea turtle nesting beaches. Commercial fishing will be discontinued in the reserve, although this will have little impact on the limited fishing now conducted in the area.
As with other reserves around the world, outside influences such as pollution, intense noise, global warming, and other problems will continue to be of concern to environmentalists, who generally praised the action by the US President better known for the anti-environmental policies of his administration.
France has been praised by environmentalists for working to establish a marine reserve for whales in the French Antilles, launching the initiative during this year’s IWC meeting in the Caribbean.
Waters surrounding Martinique, Guadeloupe, and other French Caribbean islands will be considered for protection, based on use, breeding areas, and migratory routes of species such as humpback, fin, sei, Bryde’s, minke, sperm, and pygmy sperm whales.
French activists with Robin Des Bois and Caribbean activists with the Eastern Caribbean Coalition for Environmental Awareness praised the action by France and promised to work towards completion of the new reserve.
Maxine McCloskey, a long-time whale advocate and US environmental leader, died this year on April 14th.
Maxine was active very early on on whale issues, helping Joan McIntyre set up Project Jonah. Maxine later joined with Ronn Storo-Patterson, Tom Johnson, and others to establish the Whale Center in Oakland, CA, which she ran for many years in a former candy shop on Piedmont Avenue. Much of the Whale Center’s legacy is still with us-the Whalebus was started by the Whale Center to bring an educational program around to school children in the Bay Area. It is still going strong as a project now of the Marine Mammal Center in Marin County. Maxine and the Whale Center were an active presence at International Whaling Commission meetings, helping establish the international moratorium on commercial whaling approved in 1982. Maxine also helped establish the then-named Point Reyes/Farallones National Marine Sanctuary off the coast of San Francisco, a haven for whales.
Maxine’s legacy of protected species, sanctuaries, wildernesses and habitats around the world will bear testament to her unselfish work. Our Earth is a better place for her having worked so tirelessly.