The effort to halt the annual dolphin slaugher in Taiji, Japan got a major boost when The Cove won the Oscar for Best Documentary. Earth Island’s Ric O’Barry joined Director Louie Psihoyos and several producers onstage in Los Angeles to accept the award. As producer Fisher Stevens was giving his acceptance speech O’Barry held up a sign reading, “Text Dolphin to 44144.” The camera quickly veered away, but the split second shot was enough for thousands of people to glimpse the message and send a petition to the Japanese embassy to stop the dolphin killing.
O’Barry hopes that the Academy Award will help influence public opinion in Japan. IMMP is working with the filmmakers to have The Cove available as a free download in Japan, in order to get around efforts by the Japanese government and right-wing fisheries unions to block its screening there.
Right after the Academy Awards, O’Barry joined Earth Island’s Mark Berman and Lawrence Makili for a signing ceremony with village chiefs in the Solomon Islands who agreed to end the chasing and slaughter of dolphins there.
For centuries, the communities of Fanalei and Walande of Malaita in the Solomon Islands have hunted dolphins in much the same way that fishermen do in Taiji. An estimated 2,000 dolphins a year are killed in these hunts. But the fishermen have told IMMP staff that they have to go out farther and farther each year to find the dolphins. They realize the hunt is no longer sustainable.
Earth Island proposes to help the villagers by providing them with support to develop sustainable fisheries, clean water sources, solar power, and eco-tourism programs.
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