It seems like it was just last year that the world was exposed to the secret slaughter happening in Taiji through the film, The Cove. In fact, the story of Japan’s dolphin drives was brought to the global eye long before this film was ever even conceived by a filmmaker named Hardy Jones in 1980. Through his camera’s lens, he brought global attention to the dolphin drives happening in Iki Island and Futo, later releasing footage in his film, The Dolphin Defender. Once the secret was out, concerned people from around the planet converged upon these villages in protest until the agency responsible for Japanese fishing quotas made the dolphin drives stop.
Today, we are attempting to create the same result in Taiji, but the rules have changed since Hardy first captured those images from Iki Island and the cove in Tiaji. Today, the hunters know what happens when enough people learn of their work and they take steps to prevent that knowledge from spreading. Could it really be that their thinly veiled activities are successfully being kept a secret by simply covering them up with blue tarps? From what we can tell, it would seem so. But more importantly, these days, there’s nationalistic pride involved. Japan is not likely to change their policies on fishing due to external force on principal. They need to save face. The world really does care about marine mammals… especially whales. But no amount of “outsider influence” is likely to sway the policies or quotas set for the dolphin slaughter today.
But as modern activists, we’re a clever bunch and we continue our efforts to inform the Japanese people of the slaughter happening today in their backyard. We realize that within our collective daily struggle, there is room for caring about more than just what happens in our own lives. We know that the human capacity for caring is large enough to encompass not only our concerns for all of humanity, but also for non-humans and the world itself upon which we all live. We are keeping the issue alive until the problem is solved. One way, is through talking to average people. When not in Taiji, we are involved with speaking engagements at community centers, in front of small groups at coffee shops or within articles written for newspapers. And also by addressing lecture halls filled with students at universities.
The video embedded in this article was shot at Huxley College for the Environment and features Scott West, whom most know through his work with Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and from his time in Taiji for the fall 2010 killing season. He was asked to speak due to an increasing curiosity building within the student body and faculty regarding Japan’s dolphin drives. The hall was filled to capacity. In attendance were not only westerners, but also the mixing pot of global citizens which flock to United States’ universities each year – including Japanese.
The response we received from this group of students was overwhelmingly positive. It’s obvious that these people really do care about their world and, after speaking to a few afterward, I expect some will spend much of their lives fighting alongside us to protect the environment and whats left of our dwindling wildlife population. I don’t feel that this caring attitude is limited to this one school or even to this one continent. I feel that people from around the globe really do want to make positive change regarding humanity’s impact on Earth’s ecosystems. Through organizations like Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, they can start that journey on the right path by learning the importance of first, stopping destructive human activities through direct action, then second, promoting constructive activities through education and advocacy.
One of the main issues with animal protection is the rampant attitude of “fence sitting” which comes from both sides of the debate. One side proclaims that we need harsher measures to stop the destruction as soon as possible and at any cost. The other side says we need more debates, gradual changes in regulations, and many levels of compromise before change can happen. And while the majority of both camps sit tenaciously on the fence of indecision, trying to figure out what to do next, the number of endangered species continues to follow behind the list of species driven to extinction by our inability to decide. All the while, the killers keep killing, unaware of the destruction they are passing off to their grandchildren. It is up to our current generation and the generations which follow to not leave a barren wasteland as our legacy to the future.
But we must stop the ongoing destruction before we can begin healing our world. We need the help of regular people – exactly like those seated in this classroom and those reading this text right now. People who care enough about their world… about OUR world… that they are willing to defend it. All life on our planet is interconnected and inter-reliant. Without a variety of abundant life flourishing in the oceans, life on land will wither and die. We’ve caused so much damage thus far, is it really that outrageous that we want the destruction to stop? Waiting around for someone else to fix it hasn’t worked so far.