Dolphins Spared from the Wave of Death from the Shores of Japan
Commentary by Captain Paul Watson
The earthquake and tsunami on March 11th was a horrific tragedy for the nation of Japan. Thousands killed, thousands more injured, and hundreds of thousands homeless. It was a natural disaster that brought the nation to its knees and inspired the rest of the world to come to the aid of the victims in Japan.
Our Cove Guardian crew was there and documented the surging black water as it devastated everything in its path. They saw an entire town destroyed before their eyes within minutes.
They were there because each year, this town along with a few others, has sent harpoon boats to sea to slaughter dolphins; some 15,000 to 20,000 annually.
This annual wave of death inflicted upon the defenseless dolphins off the Japanese coast has been halted, at least for this year as these towns struggle to rebuild themselves.
I don’t believe that nature discriminates and I dismiss the belief that karma inflicted this horror on the people of Japan. There is no logic in such a belief. Japan, like Christchurch in New Zealand, sits on a major fracture in the earth’s crust and such is the consequence for living on the rim of fire.
There are some people who hold the position that the Japanese people got what they deserved because of their merciless annual slaughter of whales and dolphins. The problem with this belief is that not everyone in Japan is involved with killing dolphins and whales and destroying bluefin tuna. The other problem is the simple fact that nature does not discriminate.
The Japanese government, however, can indeed be blamed for the tragedy of the nuclear reactor meltdown. Since the disaster, the government of Japan has displayed an incredible level of incompetence with cover-ups and outright lies about the situation to the Japanese people and to the world.
The Japanese tsunami has had the effect of halting, at least for this year, the annual Dall's porpoise hunt off the northeast coast of Japan.
The start of November marked the usual beginning of Japan’s annual massacre of the Dall’s porpoise, the world’s largest slaughter of any cetacean species in the world. The ocean off the coast of the Iwate Prefecture in northeastern Japan would normally be stained red around this time of year with the blood of these defenseless porpoises. Not this year.
The tsunami devastated the dolphin hunting fleet, and it has yet to recover. Dolphin killing boats were tossed like toys onto the beaches and the streets of coastal towns.
Every year until now, this porpoise slaughter has seen the butchery of over 16,000 gentle Dall’s porpoises. The population of these intelligent and pretty black and white animals has fallen dramatically over the last few decades with no controls over the numbers killed by Japanese fishermen.
As much as we sympathize with the people of Japan, we have to acknowledge that the destruction of this murderous fleet of porpoise killing vessels is the one very positive consequence of this natural disaster.
On the other hand, the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries has taken advantage of this horrific human tragedy to allocate 2.28 billion yen from the tsunami and earthquake reconstruction budget to ensure the ‘stable execution’ of the 2011 season of the Antarctic Whale Survey (JARPA), which they claim will stimulate the restoration and revival of the whaling region along the northeastern coast.
During the last two decades, Japanese fishermen have slaughtered over 300,000 gentle Dall’s porpoise. The massacre has led to the consumption of tens of thousands of tons of toxic dolphin meat by the Japanese public.
In 1972, in accordance with World Health Organization recommendations, Japan’s Health Ministry set human consumption limits for methylmercury in seafood products. Strangely and conveniently, whales and dolphins that annually exceed the maximum allowable levels, were excluded from these safety limits.
A study published by Japanese scientists in August 2005 provided evidence that the average methylmercury concentration over all the Dall’s samples taken was three-and-a-half times the recommended limit.
Medical research has established a strong link between mercury in cetacean products and a variety of human diseases and medical conditions, including Parkinson’s disease, arteriosclerosis, immune subsystem suppression, and hypertension. Threats to children include autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
So in addition to saving the lives of some 16,000 dolphins this year, the tsunami may have also had the effect of saving the lives of a great many Japanese people who would otherwise continue to dine on toxic pilot whale meat.
It appears that the March 11th tsunami has halted, temporarily at least, the violent wave of death sent out from the shores of Japan that spills the hottest of blood into the sea.
For the dolphins off the coast of Japan, the tsunami appears to have been a blessing. We can only hope that the dolphin killing boats will not be repaired and rebuilt but unfortunately money from the tsunami/earthquake relief fund is being used to help rebuild the Japanese whaling and dolphin killing industries.
This is not what people in the rest of the world had in mind when they sent donations to help the victims of the disaster. It is in fact a slap in the face to all who have given generously and it is a disgraceful display of ingratitude on the part of the Japanese government.