It is coming: September 1 kicks off Japan’s dolphin hunting season. And even if you aren’t directly marching up to fishermen to protest, environmental groups have organized events in major cities across the world to draw attention to Japan’s dolphin drive-hunting practices.
In Taiji, Japan, fishermen spend about eight months of the year rounding up and slaughtering hundreds of dolphins. The captured dolphins are delivered to marine parks for entertainment purposes, while meat from the killed mammals go to supermarkets and restaurants in Japan.
The beginning of September marks Japan Dolphins Day, an international event hosted by environmental campaign Save Japan Dolphins to generate media coverage and pressure the Japanese government to stop the hunting practice.
Events will occur in 88 cities around the world, and individuals are encouraged to work with Save Japan Dolphins to create their own event if there are none in their area. Save Japan Dolphins is run by Ric O’Barry, longtime dolphin activist and star of the Oscar-winning documentary The Cove.
To fishermen in this small coastal town, the hunting season is an age-old tradition, part of a culture that celebrates consuming dolphin meat. To environmentalists and activists in the Westernized world, the activity is appallingly inhumane toward dolphins, who are trapped near shore and slaughtered for their meat every year.
Save Japan Dolphins, a campaign under the Earth Island Institute Project, is one of many environmental groups fighting to protect these marine mammals. The group regularly travels to Taiji and invites volunteers to come along to peacefully protest the dolphin hunt. But for those who can’t make the expensive trip across the Pacific, Japan Dolphins Day offers an easier way to participate.
“The general idea is for people to go to the general consulate of Japan or embassy—and if there isn’t a consulate or embassy, to go to a local park—to urge the government of Japan to save Japan’s dolphins,” said Mark Palmer, associate director of the Earth Island Institute’s International Marine Mammal Project, which heads the Save Japan Dolphins campaign.
While Japan Dolphins Day is September 1, the day lands on a Saturday, when no one will be in the office. Thus, event participants can also choose to hold their event on August 31 to connect with embassy and consulate officials, who will easier to reach, Palmer explained to TakePart.
The emphasis is on explaining the dangers of mercury, which often taints the dolphin meat sold for consumption in Japan. Save Japan Dolphins hopes to get as much media coverage as possible to spread its message and pressure those who support the hunts.
Interested in participating? Check Save Japan Dolphins’ Google map to find an event in your area.
Will you participate in Japan Dolphins Day, or do you side with the native Japanese residents? Let us know in the comments.