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March 11, 2011

Dall's Porpoise Slaughter in Northern Japan

HarpoonsHarpoonsSea Shepherd had Cove Guardians in Taiji, Japan, every day this past hunting and killing season.  Historically, approximately 1,800 dolphins were killed in Taiji each year.  This season, 850 were killed.  In the northern prefectures of Japan, another slaughter continues essentially year round.  Hunters, killers, and other porpoise molesters move to various ports in order to conduct the largest cetacean slaughter in the world.  Many thousands of porpoises are killed each year.  The official numbers do not count those that are wounded, but not brought into port nor do they count the numbers of nursing babies that are left to starve to death after their mothers have been killed.  Through the dedication of Clare Perry and others, the world has been learning about this senseless and cruel massacre.  It is long past the time when this must stop.

There are about a dozen harpoon (hand thrown) boats now operating from Otsuchi, Iwate, Japan.  There are also 5 Sea Shepherd “Cove” Guardians and a journalist here as well.  Sea Shepherd operative Thomas Gainard scouted out the area a couple of weeks ago.  We have kept the authorities busy and the molesters are angry.  Too bad!  They need to find another line of work.

On March 10, 2011, the harpoon boats stayed in port because of high winds at sea.  They did process some porpoises caught the day before.  We spent some time at the slaughterhouse filming police, coast guard security teams, andporpoise molesters who attempted to intimidate us.  We will be checking to see if the harpoon boats go out today and if so, we will be waiting for them when they return.  The hunt is different here than the one in Taiji.  The porpoises are harpooned and gutted at sea.  Their carcasses are landed and trucked to the butcher house.

Sister citiesSister citiesWe discovered something very interesting about Otsuchi.  It not only plays host to the porpoise slaughter, but it also has a sister city relationship with one of the most cetacean friendly cites in the United States: Ft. Bragg, California.  I wonder how many of the citizens of Ft. Bragg know that their community is linked to the porpoise slaughter.  How many of citizens of Ft. Bragg will be content to leave this sister city relationship in place as long as Otsuchi continues to participate in the slaughter?  I understand that there are many aspects to Otsuchi that have nothing to do with the slaughter, but the slaughter is of such significance that it cannot be overlooked.  I am sure bonds of friendship have been established between citizens of both communities, but how can the sister city relationship continue when Ft. Bragg, CA is such a cetacean loving community?  We informed one of the key persons at the Otsuchi city office that is involved with the sister city project that the best thing for Otsuchi to do is to cease the porpoise slaughter.

The city of Broome, Australia had the potential ability to bring pressure on the dolphin slaughter in Taiji through its sister city relationship.  At first, Broome did the right thing, but then it back peddled on the issue and became an embarrassment to the whole of Australia.  What will the good people of Ft. Bragg do with this opportunity?

On going campaigns are expensive.  Volunteers in Taiji and Otsuchi are paying their own expenses, but Sea Shepherd keeps a campaign leader on the ground, and vehicles, equipment, communication, lodging, and food are all very expensive in Japan.  Please consider making a donation to Sea Shepherd to help ensure Cove Guardians remain active and able to address the porpoise slaughter in northern Japan.

For the Oceans,

Scott West

Dall's Porpoises offloaded after being harpooned at sea in Otsuchi, Iwate, Japan on March 10th

Video credit: Thomas Gainard/Sea Shepherd (2:23)

Legal Dictionary
Main Entry: mo·lest
Pronunciation: m&-'lest
Function: transitive verb
1 : to annoy, disturb, or persecute esp. with hostile intent or injurious effect
Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law, © 1996 Merriam-Webster, Inc.