Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year’s Predictions for Taiji

For many of us, this is a time for reflection and anticipation.  What does the future hold for the dolphins and the killers of Taiji?
The last several days have been good for the dolphins because the killers have taken a vacation, but a dolphin named Misty has not been so fortunate. She is confined in a dirty pool that barely gives her room to turn around. She is alone, and depressed, and she clings desperately to the yellow buoy in her mouth as a child would a toy.   
As the killers of Taiji enjoy their vacation with their family, poor Misty knows her family is gone and her only comfort in the world is an inanimate object. She was selected to be trained, and if she survives the hell hole she is in in Taiji, she will be tranquilized and packed in a box the size of a coffin and covered with ice for transport to an aquarium where she will survive only a fraction of the time she would in the wild. She will experience depression, skin rashes, ulcers, infections, and unbearable loneliness, and if she wants to eat, she will have to perform stupid tricks to amuse humans.   
One does not have to be a fortune teller to predict the future for the killers. They think they have the upper hand on the Cove Guardians and all the people around the world who oppose their heinous acts, but for those who murder dolphins, the future is not so bright.
Eventually Japan will have no choice but to stop issuing permits to kill small cetaceans. The international opposition to the dolphin slaughter continues to grow and Japan cannot financially afford to isolate itself from the world by legally permitting acts that are considered criminal is most other countries.  The killers might think they are respected because they have little or no opposition from their own community. Don’t confuse fear with respect.   
I would be less than honest if I claimed to have any concern for the killers, but I do have grave concerns for the children because they will pay for the crimes of the previous generation; the generation who fed their families dolphin meat with unsafe mercury levels.  
So killer dudes, how proud will your children be when their children; YOUR GRANDCHILDREN, are plagued with birth defects and medical problems?  Are you smiling now grandpa?   Your offspring are not, but of course, you cannot see them, because they have disowned you.  
That is what I predict for the killers of Taiji.
For the Oceans,
Janice

Please flood the Dolphin Base, info@dolphinbase.co.jp, with emails to let them know what you think about the conditions in which Misty is forced to live.  Make sure they feel the heat while there is still time to save her.   (We do not know if Misty is male or female, but I have made the assumption Misty is female because dolphin trainers prefer female dolphins.)




2011 Prediction: The killers won’t need these much longer.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Conspiracy of Silence

We had another awesome day with no death in the Cove!    We hope the Christmas break will begin tomorrow and that the dolphins will not be in danger for at least a week.
Last night I went down to the hot springs by the harbour to soak my feet and look at the moon.   A man approached me and I recognized him because he had spoken to me in the grocery store last week.  He was extremely friendly and I wondered if he knew why I was in Japan.
He said, “Oh yes, I know you are with Sea Shepherd and I have no problem with you and the young people in Japan really like you”.   He went on to say that dolphins are extremely intelligent and that he wished they would stop killing dolphins in Taiji and that many people in Taiji felt the same, but did not feel comfortable expressing their objection to the dolphin slaughter. 
This man was retired and he had lived and worked in Taiji. He told me his name, but asked that I not repeat it because he feared recriminations. What a shame.   He was an articulate professional, but he could not publicly express his opinion on the most important political, social, environmental, and economic issue in Taiji.     
Why the silence?
Two weeks ago, we were having lunch and there was a group of teenage boys at the next table.  I expected them to be too self-absorbed to notice us, or if they did, they would think the women wearing Sea Shepherd clothing were weird.  I quickly learned I had misjudged them.  We were rebels with a cause and I could tell they thought it was cool that they saw us.   
Change in any society takes time, but for the tuna, whales, and dolphins, time is running out. I am encouraged that younger people have made lifestyle changes and are prepared to voice their opinions, but the conspiracy of silence in Japan has lasted too long and it is deafeningly silent.  
For the Oceans,
Janice

Tunnel in Taiji


Tunnel in Taiji



Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Please Do What You Can

Many people have said they want to be with us in Taiji, but finances and family commitments prevent them from joining us at the Cove. Not everyone can come to Taiji and not everyone should.   
Stopping the dolphin slaughter in Taiji is going to take a lot of people working together and the role of those who are supporting us from afar is vitally important. We can’t do this without you. The words of support we receive are very encouraging and I want to thank everyone who has sent emails and commented on our blogs and on Facebook.    
If you feel frustrated because you can’t stop the dolphin slaughter, take back your power. This is a call to action.
1.     Talk with 3 people about the dolphin slaughter; people with whom you have never discussed the issue. Explain that it is the sale of live dolphins that drives the slaughter and implore them to never go to an aquarium or amusement park that has captive dolphins.   Direct these 3 people to your favourite blogs and websites and provide them with the phone number of the Japanese Embassy.

2.     If you choose to boycott a particular Japanese company, your actions are more effective if you let the company know why you are not purchasing their products.  I am not calling for a boycott of all Japanese products, but I suggest people make wise consumer decisions.

3.     Call the Japanese Embassy and tell them how you feel. Insist on speaking with a person.  

No dolphins were killed today in Taiji, but it is going to take an army of people to stop the ongoing dolphin slaughter.  Don’t assume the front line of this battle is in Taiji.  This war must be waged on a number of fronts and if everyone does what they can, the dolphin slaughter in Taiji can be stopped.
For the Oceans,
Janice
    

Happy Dolphin Bridge in Taiji

                              

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Coming of Age in Taiji

Some days I have a sense of dread from the moment I arrive at the Cove, but today felt different.  
It was a great day for the dolphins and the timing was especially fantastic because it was Nicole’s birthday. I was thankful that Nicole, a marine biology student from Australia, did not have to witness a dolphin slaughter on her 20th birthday.
Everyone who has spent time at the Cove ages several years in just a few weeks. There is a loss of innocence when one sees the horrific acts humans commit; without any conscience, and with impunity.  Many Taiji veterans are having a difficult time adjusting to life back home. The fa├žade has been stripped away, priorities are being revised, and excess baggage is cast off and abandoned. 
Today was Nicole’s birthday, but being in Taiji has been a coming of age for all of us.  
For the Oceans,
Janice
Nicole's Birthday

Monday, December 20, 2010

Judgment Day

I was chastised by someone who told me I should not use the word “killer” in my blogs.  What exactly should I call those who perform heinous acts? Fishermen catch fish and dolphins are not fish so I really struggle with calling them fishermen.  The clients of the Cove Guardians are the dolphins and if they could speak, I am sure they would be fine with my use of the word “killer”.
I was also told that I probably don’t understand the “cultural intricacies”.   I have absolutely no respect for anyone who kills whales or dolphins and uses “culture” as an excuse.  Killing a dolphin is murder and I have no intention of calling it anything else.
Killing dolphins in Taiji started in the 1970s. The dolphin genocide is driven by greed and big business; not culture.  The killing would probably cease entirely if it were not for the captive dolphin trade and the captive dolphin trade is not “culture”.
Most people in Japan have never eaten whale and extremely few people eat dolphin.  One of my colleagues regularly talks with school children and they were shocked to learn that people in the next town kill dolphins and were horrified that they actually eat them.  Saying that people in Japan grew up eating dolphin would be the same as saying that everyone in Toronto and Montreal was raised on Polar Bear meat. 
People take pride in their culture.  They are willing to share it with others so that we can all understand their traditions, but the killers of Taiji have gone to great lengths to hide their monstrous acts.  
If anyone has any ideas regarding how to end the dolphin slaughter, by all means, come on over and give it a try.  Until you have spent time here, please don’t judge or criticize the strategies of those who are living with this horror on a daily basis.  We are hard enough on ourselves because we have not yet been able to stop the dolphin slaughter and we should not be judged from afar by those who do not understand the situation.
For the Oceans,          
Janice

Hiding the victims under a tarp


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Taiji, Change Now!

Despite how repulsed we are by the ongoing dolphin slaughter in Taiji and the murder of approximately a dozen dolphins today, there are people who are willing to help the dolphin killers and the Town of Taiji.   There could be a marine park, dolphin watching tours, and other businesses that could transform Taiji from being the most hated place in Japan to being an attractive tourist destination.
Everyone loves a reformed criminal, but the offender must see the error of their ways, want to change, and ask for help. Taiji, please understand there are people who are prepared to help you.
Timing is everything.
After you have killed the last dolphin and your town is bankrupt, do you think anyone will be willing to assist? I highly doubt it.
When a mass murderer does not confess or repent until he is on his death bed, will there be compassion for this monster?  No. We will all say, “Rot in hell”.
For the Oceans,
Janice

Frightened Dolphins


I'm Watching for Banger Boats


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Who is Behind the Killing?

A few days ago, a pod of striped dolphins split and some managed to elude the hunters.  I feared the dolphins would stay in the area to look for their family members.  Today we believe it was that same family that was reunited in death.
What was particularly horrifying was that one of the dolphins was probably only a couple of weeks old. Anyone who could kill a baby dolphin must be morally bankrupt, but who is behind the mass murder of dolphins in Taiji?
The killers of Taiji are unionized employees whose boats bear the Mitsubishi logo.  As angry as I am at the fishermen, I realize they are just pawns in a much larger game.
We have been trying to start a dialogue with the fishermen and an intermediary said that a few of them seemed open to the idea. Yesterday as some of them were leaving their boat, they had to walk past us. We opted to not antagonize them by taking pictures and as they passed I said “Hello”.  Most had their faces turned away, but one nodded to me; almost before he realized what he was doing.  One of the killers of Taiji politely acknowledged a Cove Guardian!
We heard a rumour that the Mayor of Taiji told the fishermen they were not to meet with the Cove Guardians. What would the killers’ reaction be if they knew how much money others were making because of their heinous acts?
Big business and the Mayor of Taiji would prefer the fishermen remain ignorant and think a dolphin is just a big fish and that killing dolphins is ridding the ocean of pests.
For the Oceans,
Janice 



After the Kill  - photo by Libby Miller Katsinis
 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Hello Japanese Readers

I can see from my blog statistics that during the past 24 hours, more people from Japan read my blog than in all other countries combined.  Since I am getting some attention from the Japanese public, I would like to speak to the Japanese people today.
The Cove Guardians are not anti-Japanese, but we are opposed to anyone who kills whales and dolphins.  We know that many people in Japan do not support the slaughter of dolphins in Taiji, but are afraid to express their opinion.  
As long as the slaughter continues, the reputation of Taiji and Japan will be tainted and millions of people around the world will want to punish you and will not buy Japanese products. By allowing the dolphin genocide to continue, Japan is isolating itself from the world.   The financial and social damage that is being done far outweighs the profits from the live dolphin trade and the dolphin slaughter.
My role as a Cove Guardian is to make people aware of what is happening in Taiji and to put pressure on Japan, but I cannot stop the slaughter. You, the Japanese people, are the only ones who can end this insanity.
Write letters to your government representatives and talk to the media.
Please join us at the Cove.   You will see that we are just normal people who love dolphins and have put our lives on hold to try to make a difference, but we need your help.   Please find your voice.
For the Oceans,
Janice

I'm Angry

Today I watched as four cowardly dolphin trainers were brought to the Cove in a skiff. Their heads were covered and their faces were turned away from our cameras. Two dolphins were selected for a life of captivity and the slaughter of the remaining dolphins began in the presence of the dolphin trainers. 
I was angry at the dolphin trainers and the dolphin hunters, but I must redirect my outrage.  Anyone who attends a show with dolphins and whales is keeping the killers of Taiji in business.  The price of dolphin meat is so low that the dolphin hunters would be out of business if it were not for the live dolphin trade.
Please tell everyone you know not to patronize any business that has captive whales or dolphins.  It is a matter of supply and demand.  If we eliminate the demand for captive dolphins, the slaughter in Taiji will stop.
Yes, be angry at the dolphin killers of Taiji, but please be equally outraged with the aquariums and amusement parks AND their patrons. They have blood on their hands.
For the Oceans,
Janice


Fishermen install a new sign that says dolphins and whales are their property


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Viewing Murder through a Lens

The weather was ideal for the dolphin killers and this morning the Cove Guardians had a bad feeling about how this day would end.  I opted for the position on Tsunami Hill that enabled me to video the banger boats and the activities in the killing cove.
The dolphins put up a fight. The pod split and then one of those groups split again. It might sound like good news that some of the dolphins escaped, but it is very likely they will stay in the area to look for their family members. 
A calf was separated from its mother so she is probably searching for her baby right now. That dolphin’s motherly determination to reunite her family is likely to seal her fate tomorrow.
There were huge tents covering a significant portion of the Cove.  This is a national park and if I didn’t know otherwise, I would assume the Boy Scouts were having a Jamboree.    
I think I understand how a journalist feels when documenting genocide. The lens of my camera watched this repulsive scene while I focused my attention on the viewfinder that was playing a Hollywood movie with realistic special effects.   If anyone has any other ideas on how to deal with this, please let me know.
People have different perspectives and we all view the world through our own lens, but I can’t imagine any legitimate argument that could justify what my camera saw today.  
For the Oceans,
Janice


Morning at the Cove


Tents Covering the Killing Cove


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Day in the Life of a Cove Guardian in Taiji

One of the hardest things about being a Cove Guardian is not knowing what the day will bring. There could be tremendous relief, or there could be tragedy.
The weather kept the killers in port and I am back at the hotel, writing my blog, and using social media to draw attention to the slaughter of dolphins in Taiji.  
This is what I hope for every day, but my typical day involves waiting at the Cove and hoping not to see the fateful formation of banger boats that will force the dolphins into the Cove of death.  When that happens, all we can do is document, watch, and pray.  
As the boat formation moves closer to the Cove, the option for a good outcome diminishes.  When the nets close the mouth of the cove, the dolphins’ fate is sealed. 
Perhaps a boat with dolphin trainers will come around the corner and enter the Cove. The trainers might pick out a few pretty dolphins who will be sold into a life of slavery at an aquarium.  Before they are transported out of the Cove to the holding pens, these dolphins hear and see their families being murdered.
You don’t need to hear about what happens next.
The Cove Guardians have been criticized because we do not throw ourselves in the water and try to stop the killing, but with 4 women against dozens of hunters, coast guard, and police, our effort would be futile. We would end up in jail and not be able to fulfill our mandate of drawing attention to the plight of the dolphins.   
The strategy we choose must be the one that is the most effective, not the one that gives us the greatest short-term satisfaction. If we choose to focus on saving the life of an individual dolphin, we will be unable to reach our goal of permanently ending this genocide.
If we break the law, we and all future Cove Guardians could be banned from the Cove. The world will hear nothing about the dolphin slaughter and might assume it has stopped.
I will spend the rest of my day communicating with people who will tell their friends and colleagues to never go to an attraction with whales or dolphins.  Please ask as many people as possible to register their objection to the Taiji dolphin hunt by calling the Japanese embassy.
So our days continue. 
Often we don’t know what day it is, but tomorrow it will start all over again.
For the Oceans,
Janice


Lisa, Janice and Libby at the Cove


 
Early Morning in Taiji  - Photo by Libby Miller Katsinis
 

Monday, December 13, 2010

Dolphins, Japan, and Anne of Green Gables

I live in Prince Edward Island and those who are familiar with this idyllic place will be aware the Island is famous for a larger than life fictional character, Anne Shirley, otherwise known as Anne of Green Gables, the red-headed, freckled orphan who is a central character in several novels written by Lucy Maud Montgomery.
Anne was a free-speaking, free-spirited, intelligent girl. She excelled at school, challenged authority, and stood up for herself when bullied and teased.   She was spellbound by the wonder of nature. 
This fictional character has fascinated the people of Japan, and young women in particular, for over fifty years. 
In Japan Anne has become a national obsession. Since 1952, Anne of Green Gables has been required reading in Japan's public schools, and thousands of Japanese fans travel to Prince Edward Island each year to visit and even get married in Anne-themed ceremonies.  Source: http://archives.cbc.ca/arts_entertainment/literature/clips/11213/
This is all so strange.     
Why are people in Japan afraid to challenge authority?  How can young Japanese women be so inspired by Anne and her story, but not challenge bullies?   We know that many Japanese people do not support the brutal slaughter of dolphins in Taiji, but they say nothing.
If Anne were a real person, she would be marching into the office of Mr. Kazutaka Sangen, Town Mayor of Taiji, with her red hair flying in the wind, demanding the dolphin hunt be stopped.  
Anne was very connected to and moved by the beauty of nature.  The dolphins are part of nature and one day the people of Taiji will know that everyone in Taiji could live more prosperous lives if the killing stops. Dolphins that are swimming freely in the ocean, being admired by tourists from around the world have great value. All business could prosper, not just a handful of thugs.
Despite the controversy Anne caused, she was loved, respected, and eventually won the hearts of everyone in her community.
I wish the Japanese people would challenge authority, the Mayor, and the dolphin killers of Taiji. 
For the Oceans,
Janice


Sunday, December 12, 2010

No Dolphins Killed Today

The hunters went out early this morning.  There was very little wind, and that normally favors the killers, but perhaps the haze made it hard for them to spot their victims. 
When dolphins are driven into the Cove, the local residents come to watch us, but today they could not entertain themselves with their sick, voyeuristic sport.
We waited at the Cove until the final banger boat passed by as it headed for the harbor and in order to be certain our boat count was correct, we visited the docks to confirm they had all returned.  
Good weather in Taiji is inclement weather that prevents the boats from leaving port. I continue to pray for heavy rain, poor visibility, and high winds, and would be especially pleased if there was a typhoon.   

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Trying to Disguise Death

Today ended badly for approximately 10 Risso’s dolphins. We could hear the killers banging on their poles so I can only imagine how loud and terrifying this was for this family of dolphins.   
While positioning their nets at the mouth of the Cove, a banger boat crashed into the rocks. There was a lot of yelling and commotion from the fishermen and cheering from the Cove Guardians.  
After the nets were secure, the dolphin killers had lunch. 
We had a good view of the dolphins as they looked futilely for an escape route. There were small dolphins as well as some that were 10 – 12 feet and approximately 1000 pounds.  An entire extended family was murdered. 
The killers continue to improve their methods of concealing their activities, but they make mistakes.  After the slaughter, the dolphins were covered in blue tarps and dragged alongside boats to the slaughter house, but there was a fin sticking out from under the tarp.  
At the slaughter house, they had invested in some new rigging and curtains to better disguise the transfer of the bodies from the boats to the slaughter house.  They seem to be avoiding the intermediate step of the gutting barge, perhaps because it provides another opportunity for our cameras.
The Cove Guardians are not the only people in Taiji with prying cameras.   There is another group of activists as well as others working independently to stop the dolphin genocide.
I understand the Fisherman’s Union has hired a film crew. Apparently they want to tell their side of the story in response to the negative international publicity they received because of the Academy Award winning documentary, “The Cove”.
I think an “FU” movie is a great idea!   Both yesterday and today the film crew were in the slaughter house and because they bypassed the gutting barge, I am sure the footage will be outstanding.  
The movie “The Cove” cannot be shown in Japan and most Japanese people do not know about the dolphin slaughter so the FU movie will fill the gap.  If this was a basketball game, the killers just threw the ball into their own net.    
With all the cameras at the Cove, despite their efforts, there is no way the killers can disguise death.
For the Oceans,
Janice

Pushing Dolphins into the Cove

New Curtains at the Slaughter House


Friday, December 10, 2010

Media Visits the Cove

Today we were visited by Yasuhiro Asai and Yukio Minami from NTV who were producing a 3 hour documentary on the biggest news stories in Japan in 2010.
It was great to have the opportunity to speak to reporters who were trying to report the facts.  I learned that they did not know anything about the killing of dolphins in Taiji until the movie “The Cove” came out last year.
“The Cove” has been banned in Japan, but Sea Shepherd had Japanese copies produced.  Yasuhiro Asai, the Associate Producer, was very excited to get a copy of the documentary.
Yasuhiro and Yukio stayed with us for several hours as we scanned the horizon waiting for the boats to return.  It was a bad sign when they had not returned by 10:00 AM and our worst fears came true when we saw the banger boats appear in formation. 
Centuries old migratory paths take many dolphins along the coast of Japan and past Taiji. When the killers spot a pod of dolphins, they form a line with their boats and extend steel poles into the water.
The ends of the poles are flared out like a bell and the killers bang on the poles with hammers to create a wall of sound that agitates and frightens the dolphins.
Thinking they are swimming away from an overwhelming wall of noise, the dolphins panic and are driven into the killing cove. Nets are pulled across the cove to prevent their escape.
Life ended today for approximately 8 Risso’s dolphins.
As always, there was a major coast guard and police presence and they had their English flash cards standing by. The Cove Guardians, who are all female, were outnumbered 2:1.
We welcome the police because they are there to protect us from the fishermen, but we also know they are ready to nail us if we threaten “commerce”.
It was a tragic day for the dolphins, but at least the Japanese media was at the Cove to report the facts.  This is progress.

For the Oceans,

Janice



Janice with reporters after the interview


Police Flash Cards Standing by....just in case...

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Out of Bounds

Today I learned where I could and could not go in Taiji.  There are some areas that are definitely out of bounds.
Our first stop this morning was at the harbour to see if the boats went out and we were disappointed to see they had. The place where the Cove Guardians normally park their car had a no parking sign that had not been there before so we parked 20’ away. Perhaps when the fishermen are forced out of business they can be retrained as parking enforcement officers.
The property of the Fisherman’s Union, referred to by the Cove Guardians as the “FU”, is definitely out of bounds.  Why would anyone want to go to a place called the FU?
The fish market is also out of bounds. That is fine with me. Years ago I was at the fish market in Tokyo and it was disgusting. 
There is a barricade at the Cove that blocks the path that provides a view of the killing cove. Locals walk there without consequence, but we have been told we cannot cross the barricade because of the danger of falling rock. Apparently rock can only fall on Sea Shepherd supporters.
The Whale Museum in Taiji is open to the public, but not foreigners.  That is very strange.  If they are so proud of their culture, why would they not be willing to share it with others?
I now know where I can and can’t go.  I wish the dolphins would learn that Japan is out of bounds.   This time last year approximately 1000 dolphins had been killed in Taiji, but this killing season there have been only about 450 dolphins slaughtered.  I hope the dolphins are avoiding the area because the alternative is that the dolphin population is declining.
Today the dolphins stayed away. The wind picked up and boats came back early.
It was a good first day at the Cove. 
For the Oceans,
Janice



Cove Guardians
 


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I've Arrived in Osaka

I arrived in Osaka and made it through customs and immigration without incident. My Sea Shepherd gear was packed deep in my bag, but I will be breaking it out today as soon as I arrive in Taiji.
I was reminded how helpful and polite people are in Japan. As I approached the baggage carousel, I could see two staff examining my backpack and I had a brief moment of paranoia. Did they somehow know I had Sea Shepherd clothing?
Apparently something had spilled on the pack during transit and they were apologizing profusely and trying to wipe it dry.  
This afternoon I will be in the Cove. I am ready.
For the Oceans,
Janice

Friday, December 3, 2010

Money, Money, Money

I leave for Japan on December 5th.     
I have been asked if my presence in Taiji will make a difference.  Yes, it will.
The Cove Guardians are costing the Japanese a great deal of inconvenience and a lot of money.  In order to protect themselves from the Cove Guardians, the Japanese have a significant police presence, coast guard vessels, and a helicopter.  All this to defend themselves from a handful of people who have cameras and write blogs!
Some people do not have the mental or emotional capacity to view a whale or dolphin as anything more than a fish.  They will never understand that killing an intelligent, sentient creature or condemning it to a life of slavery in an amusement park is wrong.  These people believe that anything in the ocean can be taken with no regard for the irreparable damage that is being done. 
What does make sense to this type of person is money. Even the people in Japan who support the killing of whales and dolphins can only take that support so far when the financial costs far outweigh the gains.  
I am encouraged by recent developments with the Japanese whaling fleet.  As of December 1st, they had not left Japan to poach protected Minke whales, endangered fin whales, and highly endangered humpback whales in the Southern Whale Sanctuary.      
It appears the whalers do not have a refueling vessel and can’t find anyone to provide the service.  As is the case with all bullies, they eventually run out of people to intimidate.  No one wants to be associated with the whaling fleet’s “research”.    
It is hard for the Institute for Cetacean Research, the financially and morally bankrupt organization that runs the whaling program, to buy support.  They are tens of millions of dollars in debt.
Sea Shepherd has cost them their profits by preventing them from catching their self-imposed quotas.   It will be impossible to keep pouring money into this losing venture. The same can happen in Taiji.   Perhaps money is the only thing they understand.
The Cove Guardians will keep up the pressure and their presence will continue to cost Taiji a great deal of money.  The Japanese people will eventually question if the money they spend to defend this barbaric practice is really worth it.
For the Oceans,
Janice

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Canada's History with the Oceans

When I travel internationally, I often wear a Canadian flag lapel pin because Canadians are liked and respected in many countries.  With apologies to my American friends, I recall many occasions when people warm up when they find out I am Canadian, not American.    

When I travel to Taiji, should I identify myself as a Canadian?  Will it carry any weight?   If I take a photograph the Japanese find embarrassing and they unjustly arrest me, will my government come to my rescue? I doubt it.   Canada’s record regarding the oceans is shameful.    

In 1993 when Paul Watson chased foreign trawlers off the Grand Banks he was arrested by the RCMP and the Sea Shepherd vessel, the Cleveland Amory, was seized.  Captain Watson was acquitted in 1995, but by that time, the cod fishery had collapsed.    

In April 2008, an armed boarding party seized the Farley Mowat in international waters and arrested the crew members for witnessing and photographing the killing of a seal.   Peter Hammarstedt from Sweden and Alex Cornelissen from the Netherlands were not allowed to appear at their own trial.  Are you kidding me?   I thought Canada was a democracy!   

Peter and Alex were each fined $45,000 under the “Seal Protection Act”.   This is the sort of kangaroo court that one would expect to find in a country run by a right wing egotistical leader who has no respect for human rights or the environment.    

Should I run into any difficulties in Taiji, the impact will be minor in comparison to the regret I would feel if I did nothing.   

Should I wear a Canadian flag on my lapel in Taiji?   Yes, I probably will, because I can expect support from many Canadians. I will not break any laws in Japan. They do not have draconian laws that make it illegal to photograph the killing of a dolphin, but should I be detained, I have no illusions that I will receive support from the Canadian government.  

For the Oceans,

Janice

Friday, November 19, 2010

Getting Older and Wiser

Life is not a popularity contest.  My focus is on the oceans; not on anyone’s approval.   I am sure the whales and dolphins will approve of my actions.   One good thing about getting older is that the negative opinions others might hold about me or my views really don’t matter.

I started this blog because of my trip to Taiji, but I now realize I am meant to write and share my experiences and observations about all things related to the oceans. 

Some people reading this blog might think I have no business telling people in another country what they should or should not do; that we should respect other cultures.  Many crimes have been committed all over the world in the name of culture, but what might have been the norm at one time is no longer considered acceptable.  Catalonia has banned bullfighting and England has banned fox hunting.

When I tell people about my trip to Taiji, many are not sure what to say.  Some say they hope I have a nice vacation but then they blush because they know it isn’t a vacation, but are at a loss for words. Others have corrected themselves and said “Have a good… protest?” but realized that was not exactly correct either.

If you are wondering what to say, just wish me well in my attempt to save the lives of the dolphins by drawing attention to the issue.   No wild animals are being exterminated anywhere in the world the way the dolphins are in Japan. 

The dolphins do not belong to Japan.   They are citizens of the oceans.  

For the Oceans,

Janice

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Going to Taiji

There are times in life when a person needs to stand up for their beliefs and take action. The decision has been made. I am going to Taiji.

I have been involved in animal welfare for many years, but I have never used the “A” word to describe myself.  That has changed so I should just say it. I am an activist.

It is a misconception to think that activists are a bunch of rebels who do not work for a living and have strange coloured hair, body piercings, and tattoos.

Yes, I am a bit of a rebel, but I have a good education, run my business, pay my taxes, and the only hair colour I use is to cover that annoying gray. I am just a normal person who has decided to take a stance against the crimes committed against the oceans and the creatures therein.   

Time is running out for the oceans.   There is only 10% of the life in the oceans that there was 50 years ago and the majority of the damage has been inflicted during the past 20 years.  Purse seiners, long liners, trawlers, factory ships, and long distance fleets have pillaged the seas.

Decades of pollution have resulted in high mercury levels in fish, especially the large predators such as whales, dolphins, sharks, marlin, and bluefin tuna.      Carbon emissions from fossil fuels have raised ocean acidity levels and there are many areas of our oceans that have no oxygen and are devoid of life of any kind, including seabirds.   

I am horrified by the slaughter of whales and dolphins in Taiji, Japan.   I hope that by bearing witness to this horror and by telling the story, I can draw attention to this issue. 

It is people who force governments to act and I believe that international pressure on Japan will make them stop this senseless killing of intelligent, sentient creatures.  

There are risks associated with my trip to Taiji, but they pale in comparison to what is happening to the whales and dolphins.   While swimming freely in the oceans they have the misfortune of migrating past the notorious killing cove.   Hours later the water turns red. Their insides are ripped out and are taken away on a gutting barge. 

Former dolphin killing communities have transformed into eco tourist destinations. Change can happen and it is my goal to ensure it does.  

For the Oceans,

Janice