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September 5, 2010 / V A Nichols

Taiji Updates from Sea Shepherd

Sea Shepherd News

Friday, September 03, 2010

Update from Taiji, Japan

by Michael Dalton, Sea Shepherd Taiji Campaign Leader

I have just downloaded these pictures from my camera taken this morning. As you can see there is one dolphin in a sea pen waiting to be trained and shipped off to a marine park somewhere for a life of misery, to be fed a cocktail of antibiotics and anti-depressants for the remainder of its natural life.

We are expecting a contingent of 20-30 people shortly arriving from Tokyo, mostly international `tourists` – those who have listened to Ric O`Barry and have now heeded the call from Sea Shepherd to make their presence known in Taiji for the sake of the dolphins.

We have discovered that the publicly accessible cove, next to the killing cove, where the dolphins were being held yesterday is now empty and the nets have been removed.

This appears strange that they will take the nets down but maybe this is because they know that we are in town and are ready to take action to protect them.

Our plans will depend on the actions of the Taiji fishermen. If they plan to start killing dolphins (Risso or bottlenose), false killer whales or pilot whales in front of our eyes, then we will take appropriate action. We do not intend to stand by and see any sentient creatures slaughtered.

In Futo, further up the Japanese coastline, dolphin species were also slaughtered like the dolphins in Taiji up until 2003. Mr. Izumi Ishii was once one of the most outspoken advocates of the capture and killing of dolphins, but Mr. Ishii had changed. “I heard the sound of the dolphins crying as they were killed. I could not bear it,” he said in describing his reasons for converting from dolphin killing to dolphin watching, “The value I now see in dolphins is not the value of their meat, but of the wonder they incite in us.”

Taiji is a town that is slowly dying, and is not prospering from these unnecessary,  inhumane acts.

From Captain Paul Watson

Michael Dalton and his team in Taiji are there despite the threats issued by ultra right wing Japanese nationalists. Sea Shepherd is not deterred by threats of violence. A threat is a threat but what has happened and will happen to the dolphins at Taiji is not a threat – it is slaughter, barbaric and unjustified by any cultural demands.

Most of the Japanese citizens we encounter are as horrified by the killing of these dolphins as any Westerner. Taiji is not representative of the views of most Japanese people.

Hardy Jones has informed me that the people of Iki Island now miss the dolphins. Hardy along with Dexter Cate and Sea Shepherd intervened against the killing of dolphins at Iki Island between 1980 and 1982. The hunt was shut down but it was too late. The dolphins have long since disappeared from the waters of Iki Island on the West coast of Japan.

We can’t have this happen to the dolphins on the East coast of Japan.

Sea Shepherd activists are not popular in Taiji ever since 2003 when Sea Shepherd crewmembers Allison Lance and Alex Cornelissen cut the nets and released 15 dolphins that would have been slaughtered or shipped to a marine park if not for that intervention. Alex and Allison were jailed for four weeks and interrogated daily for “interference with commerce.”

Last year the fishermen at Taiji captured dolphins at the beginning of September and released them due to the presence of media and concerned citizens. A month later, they began killing again. We suspect they are trying to appease the protest by making it appear that the dolphins will be released. Once media and protestors leave, they will resume the slaughter just as they did last year.

The key to saving the dolphins is for people to constantly be in Taiji so the slaughter is not allowed to go on out of sight of cameras and witnesses.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

UPDATE FROM TAIJI: Nine Dolphins Held Captive; Dolphin Defenders Grow in Strength in the Town Without Pity

By Michael Dalton
Sea Shepherd Taiji Campaign Leader

Dolphin lovers from around the world are now starting to converge on Taiji. Sea Shepherd Conservation Society crew members will not be the only dolphin defenders here for long. This afternoon, some twenty newly arrived people will be meeting in the town with inflatable dolphins in tow. More westerners, as the Japanese Coast Guard today referred to them, will be arriving over the coming days, weeks, and months, including high profile celebrities.

As an unassuming silver Toyota sedan sits outside with two Japanese Coast Guards inside, it is obvious they take the Sea Shepherd presence here very seriously. After being followed and stopped this morning by the Coast Guard and the Japanese Police we have concluded that they have one concern on their minds: are the Sea Shepherd crew going to cut the nets again as they did in 2003? I was warned subtly that arrest would follow if I did. They know who I am.

Last night, we staked out the harbor where the dolphin pens are located. Guards were positioned in four vehicles on two points overlooking the pens with headlights and spotlights on the pens constantly, guards changing every hour. The fishermen are on red alert here, and they are convinced that Sea Shepherd will once again launch a successful strike against the nets.

Today we did a drive by to check the nets, the cove, and the pens in the harbor—there were no nets up and all boats were accounted for in the harbor, including a small blue vessel with a harpoon which we have not seen before. There was no movement around the pens.

Their paranoia now is immense.

The fishermen did not go out and hunt yesterday and have not gone out today.

What Ric O’Barry is doing in Tokyo with the media is good. We need a diversity of approaches here. The good cop, bad cop strategy so to speak. Speaking to the media in Tokyo and presenting the petitions are all good moves, and Sea Shepherd supports Ric O’Barry as we always have.

Our call to put boots on the sand here at Ground Zero in this campaign is meant for one purpose only—to get as many people who say they care about the dolphins and are able to get here to come here.

If a hundred people could be here throughout the ordeal faced by these dolphins, the killing could be significantly reduced, if not stopped altogether. These dolphins should not have to die out of sight and out of mind. It does not have to be the same hundred people. People can come for two weeks or even a few days and then be replaced by others. Surely compassion for the dolphins can bring bodies to Ground Zero here in Taiji.


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