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.