Japan to Dolphin Activist: Get Out

Immigration officials to deport ‘The Cove’ star Ric O’Barry and bar him from entering the country for five years to campaign against Japan’s annual dolphin slaughter.
Ric O'Barry. (Photo: Courtesy DolphinProject.net )
Jan 22, 2016· 1 MIN READ
Taylor Hill is an associate editor at TakePart covering environment and wildlife.

Japan has ordered the deportation of dolphin trainer–turned–animal rights activist Ric O’Barry, who was featured in the 2009 Oscar-winning documentary The Cove.

O’Barry, 76, was detained at Japan’s Narita airport on Monday when officials refused to allow him to enter the country using a tourist visa. On Friday, authorities denied an appeal from O’Barry’s lawyer, Takashi Takano.

His son, Lincoln O’Barry, said that since the release of The Cove, which brought international scrutiny to the annual dolphin hunt in Taiji, his father gets harassed and interrogated every time he visits the country.

Lincoln O’Barry said Japanese officials initially accused his father of being a member of the anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd, which maintains a constant presence in Taiji, monitoring the dolphin hunt.

“But now, they are saying he lied about where he went the last time he was in the country, so he can’t be trusted this time around,” Lincoln O’Barry said.

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In an email to his son, Ric O’Barry said he is being held on “trumped-up charges.”

“For the past 72 hours, I have been behind bars in a detention facility, yet I have broken no laws,” he wrote.

With his appeal denied, O’Barry has been scheduled for deportation and will not be permitted to return for five years. That’s a punishment his son says cannot stand.

“He has been working for 13 years to expose the brutal dolphin hunt there, and this is their latest attempt to shut him out,” Lincoln O'Barry said.

Takano has reportedly filed a lawsuit in Japan to fight the deportation warrant. O’Barry’s conservation group, The Dolphin Project, has started a petition on its website calling for the deportation measures to be dropped.

From Sept. 1 through March 1, fishers on boats drive thousands of dolphins into Taiji Cove, after which they are either sold to aquariums and marine parks or killed for their meat.

“January is typically a brutal month of slaughter in the cove,” Lincoln O’Barry said. According to The Dolphin Project’s count, 418 dolphins have been killed so far this year. “It seems to be adding up to be an especially bad year, and this deportation issue can’t distract from that.”