Saturday, October 01, 2005

Dolphin slaughter needs to be stopped

The secret dolphin slaughter October 1st each year sees the beginning of a six month killing season in Japan; the target ~ dolphins and whales. At 12 noon on Saturday 8th October, marine conservationists and concerned individuals will be gathering in over 40 cities worldwide, as part of a peaceful international protest against the annual Japanese Drive Hunt Fisheries; which contribute to the deaths of 20,000 dolphins and small whales each year during what is widely claimed to be a "crime against nature".

Fishermen along Japan’s east coast take part in the annual “Drive Hunt Fishery”. Having driven the animals into shore the fishermen surround the bay with nets, cutting off their means of escape. Many dolphins, confused and frightened, become caught up in the nets and drown. Some animals are selected for purchase by marine parks, the remainder are then hauled ashore and stabbed to death. Marine parks play a huge role in keeping these hunts active – a live dolphin destined for show earns the hunters substantially more than they would receive for a dead dolphin sold for meat.

Associations controlling marine parks and aquariums simply ignore this and continue to purchase animals from the drive hunts. London based charity, Marine Connection, is co-ordinating the UK protest outside the Japanese Embassy in London, with a wide range of concerned groups. These include; Born Free Foundation, British Divers Marine Life Rescue, Campaign Whale, Captive Animals Protection Society, Animal Connect, Catastrophes, Cetacea Defence, Environmental Investigation Agency, International Animal Rescue, Marine Connection, RSPCA, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, Whale Workshop, the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society and World Society for the Protection of Animals. Marine Connection Director, Margaux Dodds, explained: "People watching these captured dolphin “shows” in marine parks have no idea that the animals are captured from the wild in such a brutal manner; believing them to be captive bred.

So, just by going to a dolphin show or participating in a dolphin swim programme, you could, unintentionally and unknowingly, be contributing to the suffering of the very animals you wish to protect." ENDS Editor's Notes: 1: The drive fishery season. Between 1 October – 13 December 2004, the fishermen of Taiji reported the capture of 609 dolphins (389 bottlenose dolphins and 220 risso’s dolphins).

While most of these 609 dolphins were killed for human consumption, dolphin trainers selected some of the young and unblemished dolphins for use in captive dolphin shows and dolphin swim programmes. During the hunting season which commenced on 1 October 2003 through to 30 March 2004, the fishermen of Taiji had killed 1,165 dolphins; in the same period they also captured 78 dolphins for sale to marine parks. 2: Most Japanese people are unaware of the killings taking place in their country. Footage of the drive fishery taken by Ric & Helene O’Barry for One Voice, which formed part of the BBC documentary “Dolphin Hunters” shows animals in severe distress being herded into bays and systematically slaughtered – the bodies are then taken away to be butchered.

Some dolphins, unable to surface to breathe, drown due to entanglement in the capture nets, young calves separated from their mothers who they are still dependent upon for milk, will also die from starvation if their mother is captured or killed and those dolphins that do manage to escape capture, will in all likelihood, actually die from injuries sustained during the rounding up process. DVD footage of footage by Ric & Helene O’Barry entitled “Welcome to Taiji” can be viewed on arrangement with the Marine Connection. " When I am going to kill dolphins, they shed tears and close their eyes. How is it possible for me to kill animals, that shed tears and close their eyes at the moment they are killed?" Izumi Ishii (former Japanese Drive Fisherman)

"The Japan Dolphin Day protest is exactly what the dolphin hunters don't want to see happen. They told us not to take pictures because if the world learned about the slaughter, they would have to stop doing it." Ric O’Barry, One Voice “This is not tradition – this is unnecessary slaughter and suffering of wild animals; carried out without conscience to help supply marine parks, if demand stops so will the hunts”. Margaux Dodds, Marine Connection “The hunts demonstrate a shameful disrespect for these intelligent animals.

They also represent a human health risk; Japanese scientists recently found dolphin meat containing 87 times the permitted level of mercury”. Claire Bass, Environmental Investigation Agency “We utterly condemn the senseless, brutal massacre of thousands of dolphins in Taiji every year and hope the public will back the campaign to end it immediately.” Alan Knight, International Animal Rescue / British Divers Marine Life Rescue “Dolphins and whales are a world treasure. It’s time policy makers in Japan recognised growing international condemnation to these killings – they must stop now !” Alan Cooper, Cetacea Defence "The sea will become blood red as the Japanese massacre of dolphins begins again. Shame on those who would slay these intelligent, magnificent animals or imprison them for our 'entertainment'."

Virginia McKenna, Born Free Foundation "These animals are brutally kidnapped from the wild to perform for the public - boycott dolphinariums and other animal prisons" Craig Redmond, Captive Animals Protection Society “Japan's cruel dolphin and porpoise slaughter has been exposed to the world. It can and must be stopped.” Andy Ottoway, Campaign Whale “The killing of more than 20,000 small whales and dolphins in Japan each year continues despite concern from bodies like the International Whaling Commission, on both welfare and conservation grounds”.

Cathy Williamson, the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society “We are appalled by the horrific slaughter of dolphins every year by the Japanese drive hunts. This cruel hunt must be banned.” Leah Garces, World Society for the Protection of Animals “We unite in peace and harmony to show our love for dolphins and urge everyone to live in harmony with all beings.”

Quick "Facts about Dolphins"