Commentary by Cove Guardian Campaign Coordinator Scott West

Turtle Guy"Turtle Guy"We are getting under their skin. We are pushing them. We are saving dolphins.

Several days ago, “Turtle Guy” had had enough once again and assaulted Cove Guardians Rosie and Tarah. In case you are curious, Turtle Guy is the aging dolphin killer who attempted to try and push Cove Guardian Rex Ray off of the steps leading up to Glenda’s Hill during last year’s Cove Guardians campaign.  To his dismay, Turtle Guy discovered that Rex was made of stone, and bounced back as he fell to the ground with his arms and legs wildly swinging like an upended turtle, with Rex filming the incident. Turtle Guy was not amused, but we have had many a hearty chuckle at his expense.

Anyway, Turtle Guy lost it once again, this time attacking Rosie and Tarah. The police, who you would naturally expect to side with the Fisherman’s Union (FU) thugs, had to admit that Turtle Guy was in the wrong and forwarded this assault case to the local prosecutor.  The police, we have found, are stuck in an untenable position, but do their best to keep the peace in Taiji. We appreciate their presence, which by the way is costing the Wakayama Prefecture government a fortune.

Now we have another example of the Taiji Fishermen’s Union frustration. Some boys in a shiny black SUV paid Rosie a visit yesterday at the Dolphin Base Resort. These two could have been Japanese nationalists called down to Taiji to defend Japan’s honor. The police tell us they are the yakuza, members of Japan’s traditional organized crime ring. But whoever they are, they certainly underestimated their target and soon scurried back under a rock.

In order to continue to operate in Taiji, Sea Shepherd has to honor the promise Captain Paul Watson made way back in 2003, that we would not violate Japanese law in Japan. Sure, we could cut some nets and sink some boats, which would be fun, easy, and be exactly what the government of Japan hopes we do. But if Sea Shepherd is removed from Taiji, then the dolphin killers and trainers could go back to business as usual without any interference whatsoever. They could once again look forward to waking up and going to work. The government of Japan could breathe a sigh of relief at not having to deal with the hundreds (thousands even) of calls and emails their embassy staff has to field whenever we announce that a hunt is underway. Also, the government would not have to take it on the chin because these 28 cretins in Taiji are bringing huge shame and embarrassment to the country of Japan.

Sea Shepherd Cove Guardians are not the only activists in Taiji, but we are the ones who pioneered the tactic of not leaving. We welcome all volunteers who choose to come to Taiji and stand against the slaughter and captivity. The presence of each and every activist here costs the government money. However, we are particular about whom we will allow to wear the Cove Guardian shirt in Taiji and represent Sea Shepherd. We have no time for sweetness and light people who want to love and embrace the FU. It is naïve. Yes, change will only come from within Japan, but only when the government tells the cretins in Taiji to stop. So, we are essentially performing direct action in Japanese terms. Japan understands pressure and even bullying. With the Cove Guardians being on the ground, making life difficult for the cretins, and announcing to the world when a hunt or slaughter is underway, pressure is brought to bear on the government of Japan. This tactic would not work but for the true heroes of the battle who follow what is happening in Taiji and pick up their phones and type out their emails to the Japanese embassies and consulates all over the world.

Is it working? Yes! We have evidence of a rise in frustration by watching Turtle Guy and the goofy dudes in their shiny van. Much more importantly though are the actual numbers. Prior to the first Cove Guardian campaign in 2010-2011, the cretins were killing about 1,600 dolphins a year, but during the first Cove Guardian campaign they killed 825, about half the typical amount. While any dolphin killed is a travesty, saving 800 lives is certainly a success. Find any one of those dolphins saved and see if they are complaining about our tactics, I can assure you they are not. By the way, the dolphins killed so far during this the second Cove Guardian campaign are tracking pretty closely to the numbers killed at this same time last year. If all goes according to plan and we can continue to pressure the Taiji killers, we will save an additional 800 dolphins with our presence here and the calls and emails from concerned supporters from around the world.

So what amounts for the reduction in the number of dolphins killed in Taiji? The difference is the presence of Sea Shepherd Cove Guardians and persistence from concerned people all over the world, including in Japan, who remain outraged and want to do something to stop it. What are you doing to help end the ongoing killing of cetaceans?

Our beef is not with the Japanese people, it never has been, but with the government of Japan. It could get dangerous for the Cove Guardians in Taiji. It is necessary for more guardians to show up and stand with the Cove Guardian campaign leader Rosie Kunneke. There is safety in numbers. Also, the recent, albeit silly, hostilities reinforce the fact that direct action campaigns are not for wimps. So, if you want to be part of the solution, write to me at coveguardian@seashepherd.org and follow the blow-by-blow reports from the Cove Guardians so you can do your part to put pressure on the government of Japan.

One final note - Sea Shepherd is aggressive, yet non-violent organization. We will never instigate violence against a human. That being said, I informed the police in Taiji early on that we would not passively be victimized. We will honor Japanese law, which by the way clearly recognizes the right to defend oneself. I think the dudes in the SUV might have been more than surprised had they actually succeeded in laying a hand on Rosie.

 

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