In an effort to protect both dolphins and children, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) activists began a campaign today in the heart of Tokyo to bring attention to a Japanese national crime and scandal. The activists travelled to Japan to mark Dolphin Day by launching a personal protest against the killing of tens of thousands of defenseless dolphins that are in turn being fed to innocent Japanese school children despite the dangerously high levels of mercury in the dolphin meat.
"Dolphins are dying to provide cheap toxic lunches for children," said Allison Lance, SSCS field agent and campaign leader. "This is a crime that must be exposed and shut down."
Despite the evidence of dangerously high levels of mercury, the mayor of Taiji, Japan, is presently constructing a dolphin slaughterhouse with plans to increase the numbers of dolphins killed. Japanese politicians are refusing to address the scandal and the Japanese media has ignored the issue. The average Japanese citizen is completely unaware of the massive dolphin slaughter and the fact that the mercury tainted meat is being distributed to school lunch programs. Mercury poisoning is a deadly affliction which can lead to Minamata disease named after the Japanese city of Minamata where thousands of Japanese citizens have died or continue to suffer from degenerative brain cell damage and genetic birth defects.
"I cannot sit at home and do nothing," said Lance. "I believe that if the people of Japan become aware of the horror that takes place on Japanese beaches and in Japanese schoolrooms they will demand that the government take action to end the slaughter and the deliberate poisoning of their children."
Lance is being supported by fellow activist Danielle Thompson. Sea Shepherd Director, actress Persia White, who appears on the hit television program Girlfriends, will be going to Tokyo in early October to lend support to the efforts.
"Perhaps as a woman who loves both dolphins and children, I may be able to appeal to the women of Japan to call for the government to put an end to the poisoning of their children with mercury. I cannot believe that anyone can condone such evil once they become aware of this horror," said Lance.
Some 22,000 dolphins are killed each year in Japan by dolphin drives that see the animals driven onto beaches and into shallow bays where they are brutally speared, clubbed, and knifed. A few dolphins are selected for sale to dolphinariums around the world, but the majority are slaughtered for meat to feed livestock and children. Pigs fed with dolphin meat produce mercury tainted pork.
SSCS first brought the images of the dolphin slaughter to international attention in October 2003. In November 2003, Lance was arrested in Taiji along with Alex Cornelissen, from the Netherlands, when they dove into the bay to release 15 dolphins before they could be slaughtered. They were held in jail for three weeks and ordered to pay a fine of US $8,300.
"Three weeks incarceration was a small price to pay for freeing those dolphins," said Lance. "I am undertaking this campaign because the alternative is to accept the cruel slaughter of dolphins and the continued poisoning of children, and that is something I cannot and will not do."