While for some, September may mark the beginning of the school year, for the 48 fishermen of Taiji, Japan, it signifies the commencement of dolphin hunting season. The annual dolphin slaughter officially began yesterday, on September 1, 2011, otherwise called “Japan Dolphins Day” (International Day of Awareness for the Dolphins of Taiji). Although these killings had been ongoing for several years prior, the 2010 documentary “The Cove” brought this brutal occurrence to the world’s attention. Last year’s “drive-hunt” season (2010-2011) was the first year since the slaughter began in Taiji, that Cove Guardian Activists from Sea Shepherd and Save Japan Dolpins were in Taiji every day of the season, from September to March. While the number of dolphins killed was dramatically reduced, 850 dolphins were killed. An additional 171 dolphins were sold and sentenced to life in captivity, after watching their families get killed. And while the presence of the Cove Guardians in Taiji has helped, determined to continue this deadly trade, the fishermen will increase their efforts even more in keeping outsiders away.
In the past, death threats have even been made against Ric O’Barry and other volunteers. It is important to stress that the country of Japan is not to blame for this; the Japanese people themselves are not ‘dolphin killers.’ A very small percentage of the Japanese population is actually aware of the annual occurrences in the small cove in Taiji. Thus, the goal is to spread the word of these horrid acts to more people by social media, peaceful protest, and calls to the Japanese Embassy (both in Japan or wherever you live!). The objective is to speak out for the plight of the dolphins in a peaceful, non-violent manner.
“Japanese communities were badly hurt by the devastating earthquake and tsunami (referred to in Japan now as their ‘3/11’ disaster). Rehabilitating ruined coastal communities should include ending dying industries like killing dolphins and substituting dolphin-watching and whale-watching trips to build a strong tourist base.”
~ Ric O’Barry, Save Japan Dolphins Campaign
*Pictures by Mark J. Palmer, Earth Island Institute
If you would like to help, click HERE to find out how! Help keep the Taiji Cove water blue!