Friday, November 26, 2010

We need Broome to cut ties with Taiji until the slaughter ends!

You may be well aware that Broome in Western Australia holds a sister town relationship with Taiji in Japan. They have held this relationship since 1981. Due to the recent exposure of the 2400 dolphins killed annually in Taiji, Broome revoked their status as sister town in August last year. They then re-instated their relationship less than two months later apologising to the Japanese people and the Japanese government for the hastiness of their decision.

As an Australian I find it outrageous that an Australian city can support a town that brutally murders thousands of cetaceans annually. If Taiji slaughtered 2400 humans annually would Broome still hold ties with them? I think not! Why do our governments constantly back down to international pressures. If the murder is to end we need to stand together and we need the Broome council to cut ties with Taiji until that time comes.

Please address an e-mail to The letter needs to be addressed to the chief executive officer and can follow a similar format to the letter that I wrote below. If we keep urging the Broome government to cut their ties with Taiji they will have no choice but to do so. Together we can make a difference!

Dear council,

It has come to my attention that Broome holds a sister town relationship with Taiji in Japan. As you are all well aware of Taiji is the home of the largest drive hunt in the world, killing 2300-2400 cetaceans each year in a brutal, inhumane massacre. I am a marine biologist with a focus on cetacean ecology, behaviour and interaction. I have spent a lot of time studying these amazing mammals and researching their communication, both with each other and with humans. Their intelligence is astounding. The more we study them the more complex they become and, in some regards, the less we actually know!

I currently work in support of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and will be heading over to Taiji to stop this senseless slaughter. We have a team of dedicated volunteers who have been there since September and will remain there until March. I find it an outrage that Australian can still hold a close relationship with a town that is under scrutiny from the entire world for the murder they are committing, especially in light of the Australian government publicly opposing what the Japanese are doing in regards to cetacean 'harvesting'.

The decision to end the sister town relationship with Taiji in August of 2009 was obviously a tough one, however it was a decision that had to be made to re-affirm that Australians do not support this. As councilors representing your people and their beliefs you have a fundamental right to support them. Going back on your decision less than two months later shows complete cowardice and once again reflects Australian governments inability to stand by their convictions, instead buckling under the pressure of international relations. I have utmost respect for the Japanese people and understand that over 90% of them are unaware of the terrible acts that their government is committing towards marine life worldwide. The more the Japanese are becoming aware, the more they are opposing what is happening.

The majority of Australia opposes cetacean 'harvesting', the majority of the world opposes cetacean 'harvesting' however, a small town in Western Australia, through keeping a sister-town relationship with Taiji makes protecting these creatures more difficult than it needs to be. If Taiji was slaughtering 2400 humans a year would Broome still hold a sister town relationship with them? What's the difference? Why do we hold our lives in such high esteem yet we disregard beings that scientifically are more intelligent than we are?

As council I urge you to cut ties with Taiji until this slaughter ends. Explain alternate ways to make profits through cetacean education, research and tourism. Explain that there is more money to be made in conserving cetaceans, rather than 'harvesting' them. Show Japan that Australia will not bow to pressure and that we are strong enough to stand on our own two feet and stand up for what we believe in. The word is out and we will not stop until you side with us, however many e-mails, phone calls, protests it takes we need your support and we need you to cut ties with Taiji until they stop the slaughter!

For the Oceans,

Karl Goodsell

A brief background to the dolphin slaughter in Taiji, Japan...

Dolphin drive hunting is a method of hunting dolphins and occasionally other small cetaceans, such as pilot and minke whales. Hunters drive the animals into a bay or onto a beach with their boats, their escape is then prevented by closing off the route to the open sea or ocean with boats and nets. This method of hunting is highly controversial and has been criticised internationally. Dolphins are hunted this way in several places around the world, with the largest number of dolphins hunted using this method in Japan, where dolphins are mostly hunted for their meat. Some are captured and end up in dolphinariums around the world, and many thousands of dolphins are barbarically murdered in drive hunts each year. Additionally, there are possible health risks due to the extremely high levels of mercury and cadmium in the meat.
The Japanese town of Taiji on the Kii Peninsula is the largest scale drive hunting town in Japan with around 2,400 cetaceans being killed each year. 23,000 are killed annually throughout Japan! These figures are open to debate as Japan tends to greatly under-estimate their catch. For example, they were found under-estimating their Bluefin tuna catch by 170,000 tonnes in the last twenty years! 

In Japan, the hunting is done by a select group of fishermen. When a pod of dolphins has been spotted, they're driven into a bay by the fishermen who bang on metal rods in the water to scare and confuse them. When the dolphins are in the bay, it is quickly closed off with nets so the dolphins cannot escape. The dolphins are then systematically slaughtered. The method used in Taiji - the only place in Japan to currently do this - is called oikomi, where dolphins are rounded up into shallow water and harpooned one by one, swimming for days in their fellow pod-member's blood.

The release of 'The Cove' documentary in 2009 has had a direct affect on changing barbaric methods used by the fisherman in Taiji whereby the dolphins are now captured and put into cages to calm down over night. However, the following day the dolphins are caught one by one and killed, usually behind closed doors so that activists and the media can not see what is going on.

The Japanese government states that 'dolphins now may only be killed by driving a metal pin into their neck, which causes them to die within seconds'. This law is not enforced however and throat cutting and harpooning is still witnessed. The numbers of dolphins and other cetaceans that are being murdered in Taiji is rapidly decreasing due to international pressure. The hunting is no longer financially viable and the only reason fisherman can continue to hunt is because large dolphinariums around the world are buying wild dolphins for thousands of dollars. They buy them to perform at their parks and in so doing are not only sealing the fate of thousands of other dolphins to an inhumane death, but are also incarcerating wild animals and enslaving them to a fate dictated by the amusement of human beings.  Through our presence and efforts in Taiji we hope to bring the slaughter to an end once and for all!