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This year, Japan, Norway and Iceland will kill around 2,000 great whales between them in the biggest whale slaughter since commercial whaling was banned by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) 23 years ago.
However, the defiant whaling nations did not receive a single word of criticism or condemnation at this year’s annual meeting of the IWC, held in Madeira last May. This is because that meeting was dominated by a US led attempt to strike a compromise deal with Japan - a deal which threatens to legitimize the cruel killing of whales and shatter the whaling ban, heralding a return to the dark days of mass whale slaughter for profit.
However, while these sleazy negotiations over a return to commercial whaling continue, the mass slaughter of tens of thousands of smaller whales, dolphins and porpoises every year has continued largely unnoticed, unreported and unabated. But all this is about to change.
Japan’s dolphin tragedy
Every year, over 20,000 smaller whales, dolphins and porpoises are cruelly slaughtered in Japanese waters. The meat is sold for human consumption, even though it is tainted with toxic industrial pollutants such as mercury, DDTs and PCBs, all known to be hazardous to human health. Those that have witnessed these hunts first hand, or watched our secretly filmed footage, will never forget the appalling brutality and suffering inflicted upon these beautiful, intelligent creatures.
The coalition is fighting to end the slaughter of dolphins and porpoises in Japan. Within our ranks is Ric O’Barry, former trainer of ‘Flipper’ the dolphin (a hugely popular sixties TV series and later Hollywood film). In reality, Flipper was not one, but five animals that all died during the run of the show – a sad reality for these intelligent animals when held in captivity. Ric O’Barry is now working with us, determined to stop the slaughter in Taiji and other Japanese coastal villages, as well as highlight the shocking link between the dolphin hunts and the captive industry for dolphins around the world.
Now at last the appalling truth of Japan’s secret dolphin slaughter may be coming to a cinema near you. The slaughter of dolphins has been captured by hidden cameras in a feature length drama-documentary called ‘The Cove’ that has received standing ovations at the Sundance and other film festivals this year.
The film, due to be released in the UK this October, focuses on Taiji, a Japanese coastal town where around 2,300 dolphins are speared to death every year for their meat. Each dead dolphin sells for about US $600, but those few captured alive are worth as much as US $200,000 when sold to aquariums and dolphin ‘swim’ parks around the world.
The dolphin slaughter in Taiji takes place between September and March in a heavily-guarded coastal inlet. Taiji has become the epicentre of our campaign, and an undercover team secretly filmed the hunts using cameras disguised as rocks, to expose an ongoing tragedy that is covered up by the local authorities and the Japanese government.
What they filmed was truly horrific. After driving the dolphins into the cove by hammering on metal poles, the fishermen repeatedly stab the helpless animals until the water turns blood red. Some of the dolphins, traumatised by witnessing the horrific slaughter of their pod members, are captured alive to be sold to aquaria and ‘swim with dolphins’ programmes around the world.
The Japanese government tell the fishermen that dolphins are “pests” that eat too many fish, but the real reason for fishery declines is human over-fishing, climate change and pollution.
A deadly diet
‘The Cove’ also focuses on a major element of our campaign within Japan: to expose the serious health threat posed to the people that eat the dolphin and porpoise meat, many unwittingly as it is often deliberately mislabeled as whale meat. Sadly, dolphins and porpoises carry a massive level of toxic contaminants, such as mercury and PCBs, that build up in their bodies through the food chain. Taiji Town Councillors that bravely warned of the threat of mercury poisoning from eating dolphin meat have now been ostracised in a community they have lived in all their lives, but at least the publicity has forced local schools to stop serving dolphin meat in school lunches. Meanwhile, elsewhere in Japan that problem, hopefully soon to be exposed as a national scandal, continues.
Please click here to watch Campaign Whale Director Andy Ottaway talk about the Japanese dolphin slaughter on Sky News.
Please help us save the forgotten whales, before it is too late!
1) Join our pod
By joining our pod, you are helping ensure that our vital work for whales and dolphins can continue. As a member, you will receive our exclusive colour newsletter 'Spouting Off' to keep you up-to-date with all our campaigns and a special membership badge.
Single Membership costs just £20 per year, Joint Membership is £25, and Family Membership is £30. If you can, please join by monthly or annual standing order as this cuts costs, prevents the need for reminder letters and frees more funds for our vital campaigns. A monthly standing order of £4 a month is only £1 a week, that’s less than a large bar of chocolate!
Please click here to download a membership form
2) Make a donation
Every pound you can spare really counts and will help us to protect these wonderful animals.
Donate by cheque: Please make payable to ‘Campaign Whale’ and send to Campaign Whale, PO Box 2673, Lewes, East Sussex, BN8 5BZ, UK.
3) Sign our petition
Please click here to sign our ‘Save Japan Dolphins’ petition.
For further details on how you can help us, please click here.