Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Link Between Dolphin Slaughter and Whaling

By Hardy Jones

When I was in Iki, Japan three years ago the former head of the fishermen’s union told me something important. Iki had not been granted any further quotas to hunt dolphins because the Japan Fisheries Agency (JFA) felt Iki had gained too much notoriety from the footage Howard Hall and I took of the 1980 slaughter.

He said the JFA feared the dolphin slaughters and whaling would be linked in peoples’ minds and that whaling was vastly more important to Japan than the dolphin hunt.

Now I don’t know how this squares with the worldwide ignominy Taiji has suffered from films over the last few years, most recently The Cove and prior to that When Dolphins Cry, a film I did for National Geographic. But I believe the linkage exists.

It is important to see the connection between the two issues. The killing of whales at sea, while it has been filmed by Sea Shepherd and Greenpeace, does not compare in graphic intensity with the ghastly slaughter of dolphins that can be videotaped from the shores of Hatagagiri Bay at Taiji.

The two hunts – for dolphins and whales – meld in the mind. They are rightly seen as a common policy of the nation of Japan. In addition there is the fact that dolphin meat is often sold as whale meat.

Ultimately there is the image of a modern industrial nation countenancing the hideously cruel and primitive killing of animals of high intelligence – animals that are beloved around the world.

Finally there is the perfidy of the Japanese government denying the findings of its own scientists – that dolphin meat and whale meat contain high levels of contaminants that threaten human health.

For those of us who write about these issues keep the linkage in mind. Japan would sacrifice the dolphin hunt to save whaling. And the blood of the dolphins is the blood of the whales in the mind of all who care about both.

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