Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Japan’s dolphin slaughter revealed

Gary Adshead

The screeching sound of the dolphins as they were being lassoed and stabbed to death by their human executioners is something I will never forget.

Photographer Steve Ferrier and I had been shielded behind bushes atop a cliff since 4am to capture one of the most barbaric crimes against nature happening in the world today.

Sanctioned by the Japanese government, 2300 dolphins are herded every year from their ocean home by teams of fishermen with fast boats.

Exhausted and terrified the pods are held overnight in a netted bay before being corralled at first light the next day into an infamous “killing cove”.

In the space of 15 minutes we witnessed up to a dozen Risso’s dolphins being slaughtered. The emerald cove, which forms part of a national park, turned crimson red as the dolphins’ blood drained into the sea.

The town where this happens during a six month period is called Taiji – the sister town of WA’s own coastal resort town of Broome.

The cruelty we saw is made all the more macabre by the fact that Taiji gives the impression of loving dolphins as part of its tourism trade.

There is a Dolphin Resort Hotel, daily dolphin performances at the town’s whale museum and one of the first statues you see when you enter the town six hours south of Tokyo is that of a smiling striped dolphin.

Taiji town officials and fishermen’s union won’t surrender to mounting international pressure and the Japanese government says it won’t interfere.

The argument of tradition and culture is used as a defence, but evidence of high mercury levels in the dolphins is finally shrinking the meat market exploited by the fishermen.

Click here to see Steve Ferrier’s soundslide from Taiji

Warning: This soundslide contains images which some viewers may find disturbing

Have your say by clicking here

Friday, September 12, 2008

Dolphin Meat: Request for Warning Label

Each year, more than 20,000 dolphins and other small whales are killed and slaughtered in Japan. The official reason for the killing of dolphins is to provide the Japanese people with dolphin meat. "Eating dolphins is part of our culture," the dolphin hunters have told us again and again. But very few people in Japan actually eat the meat.

Ignoring the fact that dolphin meat is highly contaminated with mercury, the Japanese government introduced dolphin and whale meat to children's school lunch programs, in what we see as a rather desperate attempt to support their argument that the Japanese dolphin slaughter in an issue of food culture. The government had to pull the meat from the lunch programs, however, when the scandalous facts about mercury contamination were publicized. The killing of dolphins must stop. The Japanese people have a right to know that the dolphin meat distributed to their super markets is poisonous.

We demand that a label be placed on each and every package of dolphin meat, warning the Japanese consumers of the serious health hazards associated with mercury consumption.

You can help accomplish our goal.

Please write a respectful, short letter to Ms. Seiko Noda, Japan's Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food Safety and Science and Technology. Her e-mail address is:

Please CC The World Health Organization:

Dr. Maria NEIRA, Director
Department of Public Health and Environment
World Health Organization