The Cove Guardians Carry On
Commentary by Captain Paul Watson
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is saddened to see Scott and Elora West depart from Taiji, Japan. With their visas expiring, they had no choice but to return home after three tough, long months on the ground daily at the Cove.
They have both done an excellent job. Elora was sixteen when she arrived and seventeen when she departed and her daily blog has educated tens of thousands of people around the world about the horror of Taiji and the horrific slaughter of the defenseless dolphins. Scott West brought his professional law enforcement background to Taiji as the team leader and knew how far to push the boundaries so that he could expose the killings on a daily basis without being arrested and deported.
It was a difficult vigil for Scott, Elora and the many volunteers who visited the Cove to have to witness the cruelty and the senseless killings day after day; the stress of watching the dolphins being herded into the bay, hoping and wishing for their escape. The helplessness of this position was numbing and yet they had no choice but to endure the horror.
During their three-month post, Scott and Elora welcomed 51 Cove Guardians from 14 different nations. These are all caring people who spent their own money and took the time to travel to Japan for the dolphins.
The activities in the Cove have presented some very unique challenges for Sea Shepherd and the Cove Guardians. It takes place in Japanese territory. It is lawful to slaughter dolphins in Japan. It is lawful to inflict cruelty to the dolphins in Japan. It is lawful to capture and sell dolphins to aquariums in Japan. Sea Shepherd had to find a way to oppose the killing without violating Japanese law. Any attempt to free the dolphins is not just a violation of Japanese law, it is also not physically possible due to tight policing, coast guard and private security. Arrest for intervention means jail time, fines and deportation and the removal of the individual or individuals from Taiji without accomplishing any positive objective.
Although lawful, it is not right. Due to the legality, we cannot physically intervene in Japan as we do on the high seas, but in the name of justice we can oppose the “legal” murder of dolphins within the boundaries of Japanese law and within the boundaries of practicality. The options open to us are twofold: we hurt the opposition economically and we do all that we can to shame Japan into abolishing this atrocity.
Over the last three months, the cost of policing with local police, the coast guard and private security has been enormously expensive. Demonstrations have taken place all over the world and tens of thousands of phone calls, e-mails and faxes have been received by Japanese embassies and consulates around the globe.
Never before has the dolphin slaughter been under constant continual observation and documentation. This atrocity is no longer out of sight and out of mind and if we persist, if we continue the barrage of calls to the embassies, if we continue to cost the government enormous sums of money to guard the Cove from the Cove Guardians, if we continue to deploy volunteers on the ground, we can and we will end this slaughter.
Patience, persistence and pressure are the three attitudes that will seal this win for the dolphins. Never retreat and never surrender.
The Sea Shepherd Cove Guardian campaign carries on now under the leadership of Liberty Miller Katsinis, assisted by Nicole McLachlan and Rupert Imhoff. For the next three months they will be the eyes and ears of the world in Taiji to ensure that dolphins will never die again in the Cove out of sight and out of mind.
How much longer will Japan allow a small gang of Taiji thugs to continue to bring shame upon the entire nation of Japan? How much longer will the government be willing to foot the bill for the police, the security, the embassy and consular staff and all to defend a barbaric activity that has no place in the 21st Century.
Sea Shepherd first exposed the slaughter in Taiji to the media in 2003 and over the last seven years, this obscure dirty little secret has become notoriously world renown. We have come a long way. The world is aware. The people of Japan are becoming more aware. The slaughter is no longer a quiet little secret hidden in the quaint coastal hills of rural Japan.
The Cove Guardians will continue to document the atrocities. They will continue to humiliate the killers. They will continue to get in their faces and they will continue to remind the thugs of Taiji that their days are numbered and their murderous traditions will be abolished.
More Cove Guardians will continue to come to Taiji from around the world and when the slaughter is ended, and it will be ended, each and every one of the volunteers who selflessly traveled to the Cove will be able to reflect and able to say, “We were there and we spoke to the thugs of Taiji with our bodies and actions and we helped shut down this horrific industry, once and for all.”
And all the thousands of people who took the time to call the Japanese Embassies and Consulates around the world will be able to say, “Yes we participated, and every phone call we made, every e-mail we sent was a shot fired into the bureaucratic mindset that allows such barbarity to shame the nation of Japan”
In 1977, the last whaling station in Australia was closed and three decades later, Australia is now the most passionate anti-whaling nation on the planet. Where we once fought the Aussie whalers, we now fight the Japanese whalers and dolphin killers and I can envision a day when the Japanese will respect and honor the dolphins and the whales as passionately as Australians do today.
This is a fight we can win because I suspect the Japanese people will soon have enough of being dictated to by a small handful of rural thugs making a mockery of their entire nation in the eyes of the world. Japan is a great and powerful nation, rich in knowledge, the arts and in philosophy and they don’t need this brutality defining their image in the new millennium.