Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Cove and BlueVoice

Louie Psihoyos, multiple award winning director of The Cove, has generously written of the role played by BlueVoice and Elsa Nature Conservancy in bringing the story of the dolphin slaughter in Taiji and the threat of mercury to those who eat dolphin meat to world attention. The Cove has won virtually every film festival it has entered and is now nominated for an Academy Award. Equally important, The Cove has secured distribution in Japan. I am confident that when the Japanese people learn of the slaughter of dolphins in their own country, coupled with information on the dangerous levels of mercury in dolphin meat, the brutal practice that takes the lives of 20,000 dolphins a year will end. Hardy

Louie's statement:

Today is a good day for dolphins and the supporters of Blue Voice. The documentary I directed called The Cove about the annual slaughter of dolphins in Taiji can now announce a distribution deal in Japan. Getting to this point has been a long journey but none longer than the work of Hardy Jones and Blue Voice who were the first boots on the ground in Taiji going back to 1980. Hardy’s work, in collaboration with Sakae Hemmi of Elsa Nature Conservancy, resulted in the shutting down of the infamous drive fisheries in Iki and Futo and his work on mercury toxicity in cetacean meat has significantly reduced the demand for human consumption in that country.
The huge international response to The Cove helped to temporarily halt the slaughter of dolphins but the dolphin hunters of Taiji have recently ramped up their operation. In addition, they have installed more razor ribbon in the National Park above the cove and hired additional guards to patrol the area when they have captured dolphins. I believe the additional security is a good sign because it means the dolphin hunters know the world is now watching and their horror show cannot survive the light our collective work has shined on the issue.

I believe we will win this issue in Japan, not because of the inhumanity to animals but because of the inhumanity to man – nobody should be served poisoned meat just because of the ‘tradition’ of a few people. The Japanese Minister of Health’s provisional limit for mercury in seafood is 0.4 ppm (parts per million) but dolphin meat can have anywhere from 5-5000 times more mercury than allowed by health food laws. The dolphin hunters and their middle men sell much of the dolphin meat in Japan as ‘whale’ meat. Dolphin meat is considered in Japan to be a ‘trash’ fish and we believe if the ruse were widely known – the demand in Japan would collapse. In addition, much of the most toxic parts of the dolphin meat, the internal organs are ground up and used in pet food and fertilizer! So even if you are a vegetarian in Japan you can be poisoned by dolphin meat. The earliest signs of mercury poison was in Minamata, Japan where the Japanese government tried to cover up the first large scale industrial accident in history, the first signs of contamination were seen in cats. ‘Dancing cat disease” was the first sign of a problem before it spread to humans and was called ‘Minamata’s’ disease. People in Japan should be on the look out for their pets acting strangely.
There is a lot of work to do in Japan to inform the Japanese people that there is a problem. The government and the media have done a pretty good job trying to spin this film as a ‘Japan bashing’ movie but the Japanese people themselves who have seen it do not agree. The Cove is a love letter to the Japanese people because we are giving them the information that the government is trying to cover up. Both Hardy and I have been poisoned with mercury from eating too much fish so the issue to us is emotional and very personal.

Many dolphins have larger brains than our own and more convolutions of the gray matter allowing for more sensory neurons. They may be more sensitive than were are and we know that nature would never burden a creature with a weighty brain if it were not being used for higher functions. Our responsibility now is to realize that in the next decade our choices will decide the fate of the world. For many people this awareness will begin when they first view The Cove and quickly see how that this tiny body of water is a microcosm of a much bigger problem we all face. But I would like to acknowledge the work and tireless work of Hardy Jones of and Sakae Hemmi from Elsa Nature Conservancy whose efforts have been instrumental in helping to create awareness about the issues way before my organization, OPS entered the fight by making a film. There is a wonderful quote by Margaret Mead who said, ““A few thoughtful people can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” Hardy and Sakae deserve to be acknowledged as early champions of these important ocean issues.

The changes we seek count on the support of millions of people who believe change is possible. And make no mistake, the fight has only just begun and we will need the efforts of many like-minded organizations working together to solve the many issues raised in The Cove. Please support the important work of Blue Voice because I believe they are not just saving dolphins, they are helping to save humanity and perhaps the world. The awards bestowed on The Cove have been incredible but Hardy’s groundbreaking work made it possible. I believe awards should only be regarded as the collateral that happens when we try to create awareness to solve the issues. Our real reward will come when the cove is shut down, dolphins are no longer captured for human entertainment and we realize that our fates for survival are intertwined by actions we must now take.

For the Wild,

Louie Psihoyos
Director of The Cove
Executive Director of the Oceanic Preservation Society

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