Rosie in Taiji in 2010. Photo: Sea ShepherdRosie in Taiji in 2010. Photo: Sea ShepherdMeet Rosie Kunneke - Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s official Cove Guardians campaign leader of Operation Infinite Patience in Taiji, Japan. Rosie, a native of South Africa, arrived in Japan this past weekend to continue to document and expose the dolphin slaughter in this small Japanese town without pity for cetacean life. It is here that dolphins are caught and sold into enslavement into marine theme parks all over the world, while the Cove turns scarlet as the dolphins deemed unworthy for human amusement are cruelly slaughtered.

The key to success in Taiji is patience, and as the Cove Guardians campaign begins its second year at Taiji, we need to accept that defeating the forces of death and destruction is not an easy task that can be accomplished overnight.

Sea Shepherd has undertaken seven campaigns to the Southern Ocean and we have become more effective with each year. Slowly but surely, we have worn down the Japanese whaling fleet with our persistence. However, the dolphin slaughter in Taiji is a much more difficult campaign than the struggle in the Southern Ocean.  Specifically, it is a campaign that takes place in Japan and that in it of itself imposes significant obstacles.

Prior to the arrival of Sea Shepherd’s crewmember in Taiji in 2003, the world was completely unaware of the horrific slaughter of dolphins, but now, that is no longer the case. And nearly eight years later, the campaign aimed at focusing the international spotlight on Taiji has been hugely successful. Now that the world is very much aware of the atrocities against the dolphins in this remote Japanese village, the next task is to actually stop it.

How can we stop the slaughter without breaking the law? In 2003, we saved 15 dolphins by cutting them free from their nets and releasing them. That is a tactic that could only work once, and it did, but we learned right after that we could not sustain such tactics in the face of increased security. We need to stay within the boundaries of the Japanese law and Rosie has the discipline to ensure that the Cove Guardians do just that.

So if we can’t break the law to defend the dolphins what can we do? I have always maintained that the one language that our opposition clearly understands is the language of economics. We must make the hunt more of a financial liability and negate all profits from the slaughter. This means increasing Japanese security costs, motivating consumer boycotts of Japanese products, and keeping the spotlight on this ugly blemish on the entire Japanese society.  

One pod of Risso’s dolphins have already been slain since the hunt started earlier this month, while another pod of bottlenose dolphins was caught and an individual dolphin was captured for the slave trade.  

Dolphins will unfortunately die this year again, but hopefully not as many as last year when Sea Shepherd’s efforts cut the kills by half thanks to the support of over 65 volunteer Cove Guardians under the leadership of Scott West.

Scott will be working closely with Rosie this year. Meanwhile, Rosie will be on the ground and in the killers’ faces daily as a constant reminder that the world is watching the killing cove and this despicable massacre will never again take place outside of the view of the world. We are the eyes of the world and we will keep our eyes firmly focused on this horror until we shut it down – once and for all – forever.

Be sure to visit Sea Shepherd’s official Facebook page to stay current on the Cove Guardians and follow @seashepherd on Twitter as we “Tweet for Taiji” featuring the official breaking news updates as they happen.

Sea Shepherd is still looking for passionate individuals to join Rosie in Taiji to assist her in documenting the slaughter, standing ground to the local fishermen, and pressuring the authorities who allow this barbaric slaughter to take place. We managed to reduce the number of dolphins killed last season by half, and we can do it again this year but we cannot do it without your help as a Cove Guardians volunteer or supporter. To join us in Taiji (voluntarily, and completely at your own cost and risk), write us at coveguardian@seashepherd.org

The Beginnings of Operation Infinite Patience

Report by Rosie Kunneke

I arrived in Japan late afternoon on Saturday , September 10, 2011. I was stopped at customs as the agents proceeded to unpack my bag. Looking at my clothes scattered on the table, I was glad I had the forethought to turn all of my Sea Shepherd branded clothing inside out (I was amused just thinking of the chaos this could have caused otherwise). In the background, I could see a senior customs official inspecting my Japanese and Australian visas. After a few seconds, he motioned to the man inspecting my clothes, who was by now trying really hard to get all my clothes back into my bag, over to him. The customs agent returned with a request written, in English, asking me to consent to a full body search. I was extensively questioned regarding the purpose of my return to Japan. Only after this thorough and drawn out process was I allowed to enter their country.

There were no trains running to either Kii Katsura or Shingu in the Wakayama Prefecture due to damaged rails caused by Typhoon Talas. Driving the 200 or so kilometers to Taiji took longer than usual due to the closure of some roads for much-needed repair. There were military vehicles everywhere busy with assistance and clean-up after Talas. I arrived in Taiji by afternoon on the next day.

My original plan was to do some recon before making my presence known. There was still enough daylight left, so I decided to proceed to the Cove to try and establish what changes in barricades, fences, etc. had been made since last season, but within 200 meters of entry, a police vehicle passed me and immediately turned around to follow me. I was pulled over and realized quickly, that as reports suggested, the police really spent a lot of time planning and preparing for this year’s dolphin slaughter. The police now has a form that must be completed indicating why you are visiting Taiji, what you are planning to do, where you are staying, and how long you intend to stay. I informed the police who I was, and as expected, they became really concerned on hearing I am here for Sea Shepherd. The questioniong changed to whether I was alone and when more people from Sea Shepherd would arrive. After taking all of my information, they informed me that I would be questioned again.

I was relieved to find out that water supply to the area has been restored upon arriving to my hotel.

And thus, Operation Infinite Patience has begun…

For the Oceans,

Rosie Kunneke

Click here to read reports from the Cove Guardians in Taiji, Japan

 

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