Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Nederlandse Sea Shepherd-activist blijft in Japanse cel
Dutch Sea Sheapherd activist stays in Japanese cell.

He has to stay in cell for another 10 days.
Japanese authorities did a raid in the hotel where the volunteers of Sea Shepherd stayed. Their laptops, camera’s and gsm’s (cell phones) where confiscated.

Ship-engineer Vermeulen pushed a dolphin hunter when he was entering a path that was open / permitted only for dolphinhunters, say the Japanese authorities.
Vermeulen says he did not use violence but only wanted to take some photographs.

Vermeulen could not speak to his family, he is not allowed to make phonecalls.

The Dutch ministry of foreign affairs declares that Vermeulen is well and also gets a different diet now. “In the beginning he did not eat because he is Vegan” tells his sister.
She says that he denied a local lawyer. Sea Shepheard is searching for a Japanese lawyer with a positive attitude towards protectors of whales and dolphins.

Raid at hotel
In a raid at the hotel where the Sea Shepherd volunteers stayed, their laptops, cameras, cell phones where confiscated. Paul Watson, founder of the Sea Shepherd organization says: “They were robbed to make sure that they cannot document the horror that happens in Taiji. This is a desperate attempt to stop the freedom of expression and to hide the horrible massacre. More than ever the Cove Guardians need volunteers.“

You can sign a petition that demands immediately release of Erwin Vermeulen here:
Wie de petitie wil ondertekenen die Erwin Vermeulens onmiddellijke vrijlating eist, kan dat hier doen. (lb)

(The online editon of the Belgian “ demorgen.be “ is related to one of the biggest Dutch newspapers in the Netherlands, “De Volkskrant’)

Thanks to Maria Heidemann for assistance with the English translation.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Erwin Vermeulen Reportedly Gets Visit From Embassy

EINDHOVEN: The Veldhoven (Dutch city) resident Erwin Vermeulen (42), who was arrested on Friday in Japan while doing a protest against the capture of dolphins, was visited on Saturday in his cell by a representative of the Dutch ambassy of this Asiatic country.

That says Geert Vons, director of the Dutch department of Sea Shepherd. Vermeulen is volunteer of this international organization who is committed to the conservation of the oceans. Sea Shepherd did not get any information about the sort of communication between the representative of the embassy and Vermeulen.

After this weekend possibly a conversation with lawyers

Mr. Vons expects that Vermeulen will be able to talk to lawyers after this weekend, but he is not sure of that. “It is very possible that in Japan people have to stay in prison even for a small misbehavior for a long time. That happened to our employee Alex Cornelissen who was arrested in 2003 and for 2 weeks was not allowed to speak to a lawyer.”

Confidence in a good outcome

Sea Shepherd Netherlands nevertheless trusts that there will be a good outcome. “We have had that before, we know that we have a risk of being arrested when we do this sort of action. Erwin himself also is very well aware of that. The Japanese authorities just get nervous of our protest against the capture of dolphins.”

Mr. Vons: “peaceful Activism”

The 42 years old Vermeulen is since one and a half year a ‘Cove Guardian’ for Sea Shepherd. Almost 3 weeks ago the man from Veldhoven flew on his own costs to Taiji, which situated at the Southern coast of Japan. The organization is protesting there already for a long time against the captivity in the ‘baai’ (cove in English) in Taiji. Last Friday Vermeulen photographed with his colleagues how some of the animals where transferred from floating cages in the ocean to pools in the ‘Dolphin Resort Hotel’. According to the police Vermeulen had pushed an employee of the hotel. Sea Shepherd calles that action ‘unjustified’. Mr. Vons: “We do peaceful activism. The authorities are looking for something to give us a bad reputation.”


Every year in Taiji a dolphinhunt is taking place. Japan gives out 23.000 permissions to coast places to slaughter dolphins of all different sorts. Some of the living animals are sold to aquaria worldwide.

Sea Shepherd

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) is an international organization that protects all sea-life. Her mission is ‘to stop the slaughter of life in the sea and the destruction of the environment in order to protect and preserve the eco-system and the species.”


The attention about the dolphinhunt increased significantly since the documentary The Cove (2009) was overloaded with film-awards. The documentary shows how the fishermen in Taiji push about 2000 dolphins in a cove in order to harpoon the marine mammals.

The Cove Guardians are present since the first of September. The operation is called “Operation Infinite Patience”.

Original Article below from http://www.ed.nl/regio/veldhoven/10090404/Opgepakte-Veldhovenaar-in-Japan-krijgt-bezoek-van-ambassade.ece


EINDHOVEN - Veldhovenaar Erwin Vermeulen (42) die vrijdag in Japan is opgepakt tijdens een actie tegen de dolfijnvangst heeft zaterdag in zijn cel bezoek gehad van een vertegenwoordiger van de Nederlandse ambassade in het Aziatische land.

Dat meldt Geert Vons, directeur van de Nederlandse afdeling van Sea Shepherd. Vermeulen is vrijwilliger voor deze internationale organisatie die zich inzet voor het behoud van zeeleven. Over de aard van het gesprek tussen Vermeulen en de ambassademedewerker heeft Sea Shepherd echter niets vernomen.

Na het weekend mogelijk gesprek met advocaten
Vons verwacht dat Vermeulen na het weekend kan spreken met advocaten, al is hij daar niet zeker van. “In Japan is het mogelijk dat je voor een klein vergrijp lange tijd vastzit. Dat is eerder gebeurd met onze medewerker Alex Cornelissen die in 2003 twee weken vast zat in Japan zonder een advocaat te mogen spreken.”

Vertrouwen in goede afloop
Sea Shepherd Nederland heeft niettemin vertrouwen in een goede afloop. “Dit maken we vaker mee, we weten dat we het risico op arrestatie lopen bij dit soort acties. Erwin zelf weet ook heel goed waar hij aan begonnen was. De Japanse autoriteiten raken simpelweg nerveus van onze acties tegen de dolfijnenvangst.”

Vons: 'Vreedzaam actievoeren'
De 42-jarige Vermeulen is sinds anderhalf jaar ‘Cove Guardian’ voor Sea Shepherd. Een kleine drie weken geleden vloog de Veldhovenaar op eigen kosten naar Taiji aan de zuidkust van Japan. De organisatie voert daar al langere tijd actie tegen dolfijnenvangst in de baai (cove in het Engels) bij Taiji. Vrijdag fotografeerde Vermeulen met collega’s hoe enkele dieren vanuit drijvende kooien in zee werden overgezet naar bassins van het Dolphin Resort Hotel. Volgens de politie zou Vermeulen een hotelmedewerker hebben geduwd. Sea Shepherd noemt de actie onterecht. Vons: “Wij voeren vreedzaam actie. De autoriteiten zoeken iets om ons in een negatief daglicht te stellen."

Ieder jaar vindt in Taiji een dolfijnenjacht plaats. Japan geeft 23.000 vergunningen af aan kustplaatsen om dolfijnen van verschillende soort te slachten. Een aantal levende dieren wordt verkocht aan aquaria wereldwijd.

Sea Shepherd
De Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) is een internationale organisatie die al het leven in zee beschermt. Haar missie is "de afslachting van het leven in zee en de vernietiging van de leefomgeving te stoppen om zo ecosystemen en soorten te beschermen en te behouden''.

De aandacht voor de dolfijnenjacht is flink toegenomen sinds de documentaire The Cove (2009) met filmprijzen werd overladen. De documentaire laat zien hoe vissers in de stad Taiji ongeveer 2000 dolfijnen in een baai bij elkaar drijven om de zeezoogdieren te harpoeneren.

De Cove Guardians zijn sinds 1 september aanwezig. De actie heet Operation Infinite Patience.

Thanks to Maria Heidemann for the translation

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Island of the Dragon: Iki Island and Dexter Cate

The Island of the Dragon
In PETER SINGER (ed), In Defense of Animals
New York: Basil Blackwell, 1985, pp. 148-156

It is called Tatsunoshima, the Island of the Dragon. It lies curled in a 'C', with its back to the rough Japan Sea and its feet stretched towards Iki Island across a mile-wide channel. Its moods are changeable . . . and sometimes deadly.
During the summer months the Dragon is warm and friendly; vacationers flock by the hundreds to nestle up to its white sand belly and row boats in the clear, quiet waters of the protected bay. Katsumoto village, a community on the northern coast of Iki Island, makes most of its summer money catering to these visitors and tourists.
During the winter months of February through April, however, the Dragon shows its grim side. Amid human shouts, high-pitched whistles of dolphins in distress and sounds of frantic splashing, the crystal water turns a brilliant red. The dragon bloods its kill: the annual dolphin slaughter has begun.
It hasn't always been thus. Until just a few years ago Tatsunoshima was used only by vacationers and other visitors who sought contact with their Shinto past; the small, uninhabited island is designated a national park. Its serene beauty summons up an image of ancient Japan. This image changed abruptly in 1978, when the fishermen of Iki Island thrust Tatsunoshima into world prominence by slaughtering over 1,000 dolphins, drawing cries of anger and protest from around the globe.
I caught my first glimpse of Tatsunoshima in August on 1978, through the forest of masts in Katsumoto harbour. I was there to talk with Niichiro Kashii, head of the Katsumoto Fishermen's Co-operative, in order to understand the fishermen's position concerning the slaughter of dolphins. I found Kashii-san to be a gentle, gracious host who made a genuine attempt to understand the furore the dolphin slaughter had caused abroad. He made every effort to explain to me the fishermen's viewpoint.
I was already aware of the extent of dolphin killing in Japan. In 1975 I had toured Japan as part of a marine studies course. My particular interests were Japan's whaling industry and marine pollution. I learned of the extensive dolphin 'fishery' while talking to dolphin researchers at Tokyo University. At that time the primary reason for dolphin slaughters was food and, to a lesser extent, fertilizer and oil. The situation in Iki was rather different: the main issue was competition for limited resources.
For over ten years local fishermen had complained of dolphins scaring away the buri (yellowtail tuna) and squid. After asking for, and being denied, help from their Government, they took matters into their own hands. Dolphins were herded into the deep cove of Tatsunoshima, barricaded by nets at the bay's mouth, and methodically slaughtered. To the fishermen, who saw their profits dropping yearly, there seemed no alternative.
When I told Mr Kashii of my interest in finding an alternative to the slaughter he was receptive to the idea, although sceptical about whether it could succeed.
I returned in December of 1978, financed by the Fund for Animals and Greenpeace. I took with me Jim Nollman, a specialist in interspecies music. In addition; I also took along ajacques Cousteau film which showed the fishermen of Mauritania co-operating with dolphins to catch fish, which, I hoped, would illustrate to the local fishermen that co-operation was possible. Accomplishing this, we would journey to the fishing area and use Nollman and his instruments to attempt to attract dolphins to our boat. Jim had been successful at this very thing before in both California and Mexico, and we hoped that a successful demonstration here would convince the fishermen that co-operation with dolphins, as opposed to competition, was worth exploring further. The film was a great success, sparking the interest not only of Kashii but of the village children as well. Unfortunately, the attempt to attract dolphins drew a blank. There were no dolphins in the area at that time.
We did, however, attract considerable media attention. Our attempts to communicate with the dolphins in the hope of finding a solution to the Iki 'dolphin problem' received nationwide, and quite sympathetic, coverage on two of the three top television networks in Japan.
My next visit to Iki and the Dragon Island came the following March. This time I took along Frank Robson from New Zealand. Robson, author of the book Thinking Dolphins, Talking Whales, had demonstrated amazing success in communicating empathetically with dolphins. While head of the dolphin-training programme at Marineland in New Zealand, he did all training by communicating directly with the dolphins, eschewing both whistle and food rewards. The performances of his dolphins remain unexcelled to this day.
The plan this time was for Frank to try to communicate to the dolphins that they should stay on the periphery of the fishing banks, leaving the centre to the fishermen; thus any fish trying to escape the dolphins would head straight for the fishing boats. The dolphins would be able to catch the fish they needed while acting as a sort of living net to help the fishermen. It was much like the method of the fishermen and dolphins in Mauritania.
Again the media showed considerable interest in the project. Frank was shown on NHK, the national TV network, as he talked to dolphins at an oceanarium near Tokyo. The dolphins took an obvious interest in him, appearing to understand what he was saying. Frank, a grandfatherly figure, has been a fisherman for forty years. He understands the problems ofthat way of life..We headed for Iki with high hopes of bridging the gap between the fishermen and the dolphins.
We were too late. The dragon had spread its claws. The week before we arrived fishermen had conducted a dolphin round-up and had slaughtered some 400 dolphins. For the duration of our week-long visit, the only dolphins to be seen at Tatsunoshima were dead ones.
It wasn't, however, an entirely wasted trip. We made several trips to the fishing banks with the fishermen and saw, at first hand, the methods used to catch the buri and squid. Hardy Jones, of the Breach Foundation, recorded it all on film. At these fishing banks the truth of the situation became apparent: the problem was, very clearly, not one of too many dolphins but of too many fishermen. The fishing banks were literally packed with boats, giving fishermen little room to manoeuvre. We learned that as other fishing grounds around Japan became fished out, more and more fishermen were converging upon these banks. In the last three years alone the number of boats fishing this small area had increased by more than 200. It was an obvious case of overfishing, and the dolphins were being made the scapegoats.
The dolphins migrate through these waters annually on their way north in the Japan Sea. They are in the area for only two or three months. The fishing banks the Iki fishermen claim as their own have undoubtedly been dolphin feeding stops for thousands, possibly millions, of years. Despite the fact that the dolphins obviously have prior claim to fish resources here, any solution to the conflict would have to be agreeable to the fishermen.
The closer we looked at the situation, the more clearly we could see the problems the fishermen were facing. I visited a buri farm on the island. I learned that the culture of buri, a quality fish that fetches a premium price in Japan, is a booming business - so successful, in fact, that it is undercutting the buri fisheries. The bulk of buri sold in Japanese markets is cultured. To make matters worse, the buri farms obtain their buri fry, called mojako, from the spawning areas near Kyushu. Hundreds of tons of the tiny fish are netted with small-mesh nets, some to be sold directly as food in the markets nationwide, the rest to be sold to the buri farms. Thus fewer mojako survive to become adult buri and migrate up the coast to the Iki fishing banks. Along their path up the Kyushu coast the mojako, who hug the shoreline, pass numerous industrial centres, including Minamata, the 'home' of mercury poisoning, or Minimata disease. The mojako are very susceptible to chemical pollution, especially mercury. It became apparent that overfishing was only part of the problem.
In one respect the fishermen were probably correct: there weren't enough fish left for both humans and dolphins. Yet, as a human problem, it had to have a human solution. Punishing the dolphins was as unfair as it was ecologically foolish.
Fortunately, a number of potentially workable human solutions presented themselves during my subsequent research, and in November of 1979 a telephone petition urging the implementation of these dolphin-saving alternatives was directed to the US (because of the tuna-dolphin problem) and Japanese Governments. As a part of that campaign, a proposal I had drawn up was delivered to various Japanese government agencies. This proposal included: a dolphin-damage insurance plan, designed to reimburse Iki fishermen for any financial losses caused by dolphin intervention, with the dolphins remaining unmolested; government assistance to Iki island to help establish appropriate aquaculture and mariculture programmes as alternative occupations, thus ensuring jobs and food supply on a continuing basis; government assistance in the construction of artificial reefs and buri hatcheries to rebuild the devastated buri population around the island; government-enforced reduction of the number of fishing boats allowed in the area to an ecologically sustainable number. The Japanese government was already spending huge amounts in dolphin bounties, machinery and foreign public relations in order to perpetuate the slaughter; these suggested programmes would provide a way to spend this money that would solve the problem of the dolphins and the fishermen.
On my final visit to Iki, in February 1980, I planned to follow through with this proposal: to get the endorsement of the Iki fishermen, if possible, and to press for government action.
I didn't get the chance. The day my family and I arrived on Iki, we learned they were already herding the dolphins in towards Tatsu-noshima. The next morning we arranged to journey to the Island of the Dragon.
The scene that met us was straight out of Dante. Between about 800 and 1,000 dolphins were in the cove, many beached and dying a lingering, agonizing death. Others were caught in the nets, struggling to get their blowholes above the water's surface to gasp for one more breath. On the beach hundreds more lay dead and dying, blood gushing from spear wounds in their sides. About sixty fishermen were busy with the massacre. While some, dressed in full wetsuits, waded in the chest-deep, blood-red water catching the dolphins and tying ropes to their tails, another twenty or so pulled in unison on a stout rope. A writhing dolphin, pulled by the tail flukes, slipped and slid over the bodies of her friends and relatives and lay gasping and whistling on the beach, while two or three men with spears jabbed until blood came gushing forth. At any moment a dozen or more dolphins were heaving in their last struggle, their life flowing red into the sand. My wife, Suzie, and cameraman Howard Hall constantly changed angles, recording on film this ghastly side of the Dragon Island.
We learned that the fishermen would receive a bounty of $80 per dolphin, half of this paid by the Japanese Government. Dolphin meat, not normally a part of the Iki diet, was being promoted in a full-colour pamphlet produced by a government agency. A huge $147,000 grinding machine, purchased with government assistance, was being employed to grind the dolphins into a mush that would be used as pig feed and fertilizer.
What had begun two years ago as a desperate move by the fishermen had now become a profitable business. Watching the giant grinding machine do its grisly work, I knew all my efforts to find alternatives had come to nothing.
The following day most of the fishermen occupied themselves by grinding up the dolphins slaughtered the day before. I spent the day buying necessary equipment and that night, in the teeth of a building storm, paddled a small inflatable kayak a mile across the channel to Tatsunoshima, where some 500 dolphins were still awaiting execution.
Untying three ropes, severing one, I opened the jaws of the Dragon. As the winds reached gale force, I realized I would be unable to paddle back to the main island. It was just as well. There were dozens of dolphins left stranded on the beach as the tide fell. I spend the rest of the night helping them to deeper water and the chance of freedom.
Not all the dolphins escaped. Some were injured, and some, I feel, simply made the choice not to abandon loved ones. By the time the fishermen arrived the next morning approximately 250 dolphins had found their way out of the nets to freedom.
I was turned over to the police by the fishermen and subsequently charged with forceful obstruction of the fishermen's business. I spent the next three months in solitary confinement at Sasebo prison. During this time my trial proceeded.
At my trial Milton Kaufman, of the Fund for Animals and Monitor International, testified to the ecological short-sightedness of such dolphin slaughters and the worldwide reaction to Japan's policy of dolphin eradication. Peter Singer came from Australia to testify to the philosophical and moral implications of the dolphin slaughters. Buddhist teachings of reverance for sentient life were discussed, as well as the fact that the small island where the slaughters took place is a national park where such killing is strictly forbidden.
My lawyer, Manabu Arioka, who volunteered his services, tried to apprise me of the differences between Japanese law and US law. I was still caught off-guard. Japanese law allows a judge to refuse bail to anyone who does not have a permanent address in Japan. The trial judge would not accept my Tokyo address as permanent because, as I was a foreigner, my permanent address must, by definition, be abroad. He refused bail. My lawyer objected that such reasoning would deny bail to any visitor to Japan, which would contravene Japan's constitution guaranteeing equal treatment under the law, regardless of nationality. The Judge's response: 'But Mr Gate is not just any visitor to Japan. He has committed a crime.' Aside from the rather circular reasoning, this incident taught me that in Japan, once you are charged, the assumption is that you are guilty, although theoretically you are innocent until proven guilty. There is no jury, and the judge has complete autocratic power. He is not bound by precedent, as are US judges. He has the authority to credit or discredit any testimony or line of reasoning, without explanation.
This system has some obvious disadvantages, but it also has some advantages. Because the judge has control of the outcome of the trial, he may feel less constrained about what he may allow as testimony. It is unlikely that in a similar trial in the United States the judge would allow a philosopher to testify concerning animal rights. In fact, Peter Singer's testimony on the dolphins' behalf is, as far as I am aware, the first time such testimony has been allowed in a criminal court anywhere.
The Japanese system also allows a defendant personally to cross-examine any witness. This was especially useful, as I had very little time to confer with my lawyer before entering the courtroom. He had slight knowledge either of dolphins or of my activities concerning dolphins in Iki or anywhere else. He had volunteered his services out of a conviction that what the fishermen were doing was wrong and that my actions were morally and legallyjustified. The trial took on a two-level aspect: I dealt with the moral and philosophical implications, while Mr Arioka dealt with strictly legal matters. For the most part it was an effective division of labour. The greatest problems were in the area of communication. They were quite frustrating.
The court interpreter had a fair command of English, which in most situations, I'm sure, would have sufficed. However, in this situation there were many concepts quite foreign to the Japanese way of thinking. It was very difficult to communicate our view of the dolphins to the judge. In several instances I intercepted rather serious misinterpretations, even with my meagre knowledge of Japanese. The interpreter had a very difficult time with the concept of ecology, and when he translated testimony concerning the intelligence of dolphins the courtroom, filled with Japanese reporters and onlookers, burst into laughter. Obviously something was lost in the translation. The judge asked Peter Singer, 'If these dolphins are so intelligent, do they go to school?' It became evident that the philosophical gap between the Japanese and the Westerners was even greater than I had realized. Most of my discussions with Japanese had been with the small minority who shared my views concerning ecology and with a few who even shared my concern for the cetaceans. Even these balked, with very few exceptions, when I talked of dolphins as the 'people of the sea'. The thought that any other creature, besides humans, might have language, might have thoughts as sophisticated as ours, might have similar feelings, was totally unacceptable. When I mentioned the size and complexity of the cetacean brain, the judge responded with, 'If dolphins are so intelligent, why do they lead American tuna boats to schools of tuna, only to meet with death themselves?' I didn't know whether to try to correct his misapprehension of the tuna—dolphin situation or to try to deal with the intelligence issue further - or to give it up as a lost cause. The only thing that kept me going was the knowledge that the courtroom was filled with reporters, some of whom just might understand what I was saying.
Perhaps the best communications bridge was Uncle Harry Mitchell, a Hawaiian taro farmer and fisherman, who came over to Japan at my request. He talked with both the judge and Mr Kashii, head of the Iki fishermen's union. I believe his down-to-earth Hawaiian wisdom did more to communicate our concern for the dolphins and the overriding concern for a healthy marine environment than could all of our talk of ecology and animal rights.
In the end the whole trial came to have the farcical appearance of a shibai, a Japanese play. After three months in detention and six days in court (the Japanese judicial system allows only two days in court per month, hence the three month detention), the judge issued his verdict and passed sentence. All defence arguments went by the way as the judge limited his considerations to 'forceful obstruction'. I was found guilty, given a six-month suspended sentence and turned over to Immigration. During my stay in Sasebo prison my visa had expired, so I was now labelled an illegal alien to be held in detention for the duration of any appeal I might undertake; if I signed a waiver of my right to appeal, on the other hand, I would be deported immediately. After learning that the appeal process can take three years or more, I signed the waiver. I also learned that I had a choice over deportation: if I paid for my own ticket, I could leave immediately; if I insisted that the Japanese Government pay, there would be a delay of six months, during which time, of course, I would have to remain in detention. I paid.
After the trial I asked my lawyer if he thought the outcome of the trial had been predetermined by higher-ups in government. 'Oh yes,' he responded. I asked what percentage of the cases that go to trial in Japan end up in convictions. 'More than 99 per cent,' was his answer.
Since my return to Hawaii I have frequently been asked, 'Was it worth it?' Certainly the three months in prison did me no harm and probably did me some good. The dolphin slaughters in Iki continued, although the numbers killed the following years were 90 per cent fewer than in 1980. The fishermen reported that the dolphins were much more difficult to herd into the nets.
Other dolphin slaughters have continued in Japan and elsewhere in the world. I fear they are on the rise. Just as terrestrial mammals have been forced off their land and exterminated, so too are marine mammals increasingly becoming the victims of unchecked human expansion. It is a global problem. So to whatever extent my action served to publicize the problem, it was worth it.
However, as I recall my feelings and thoughts of 29 February 1980 I realize that these things were not my major concern. I had witnessed my brothers and sisters of the sea suffering and had had the opportunity to help them. I had really had no choice. Was it worth it? Ask the dolphins.
Tatsunoshima symbolizes to me the plight of our planet. The friendly face of the Dragon shows us the possibility of living peaceful lives in tune with the beauty of our environment, of coexisting with all creatures, including other people of all shapes and colours. The destructive face of the Dragon consumes all in its path, cherishing no life other than its own. Its self-centred rampage can have but one end: extinction. The fire-breathing Dragon springs from the depths of our reptilian past. Can we transcend the demon that lies within us, or are we doomed to destroy our planet, this lovely island in space? Maybe the dolphins have the answer.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Your ideas needed to end the Taiji hunt

We support dolphins.

Our Facebook group, TDAG, supports dolphins.

Many organizations support dolphins.

Organizations approach the dolphin hunt issues differently. The reality is that there will always be vast differences of opinion in how to end the hunt.

TDAG members have worked with individuals from at least nine organizations: SSCS, SJD, Eyes On Taiji, WDCS, EIA, Whaleman, Atlantic Blue, Blue Voice, and ELSA. Please get to know these groups. They accept non-profit donations. Get involved more deeply in their work. The leaders and paid to interact with you. They have excellent resources and vast experience. If you have ideas that seem to match their various approaches, we would be happy to introduce you to their representatives.

There are at least four other groups where committed individuals work to end the hunt: Campaign Whale, Ocean Care, AWI, and IDA. We have had positive interaction with them on a more limited basis. Please get to know them too.

They all agree that they want the hunt to end, and yet follow different, sometimes dramatically different, paths.

A goal of TDAG is to give all paths a voice and encourage the development of more by encourage readers to follow their hearts. We are still searching for the way to end the hunt.

Steven Thompson
TDAG Co-Founder

Thanks to Steve Cody, for sparking this post.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Stars align over Taiji again in March 2011

Dear TAG Friends:

This weekend, as I try to take a step back for family, I'm drawn back in. I will go back to Taiji.

What do you get when activists get almost banned from Japan? They go back! I'll be meeting Scott and Tarah, two of the most dangerous pirates this side of the date line.

And Brian Barnes' work for SJD looks like it's in a nice groove. The initial tests he did on the iphone TAG/donor supplied went well. This may help support an even higher level of awareness next season.

It has become apparent that helping bring Japanese into core leadership positions is the only way we will bring awareness and change to the dolphin issue. Much of my work here in Japan is connecting Japanese to people as deeply as they can handle.

My appeal to you: if you are ready to get more involved, there are two Japanese people who have been to Taiji and need a mentor and financial supporter to bring them back again and again. If you would like to support one of these people, please let me know. This may be the chance you have been looking for to live vicariously through the eyes of young Japanese activists as they explore what can be done for dolphins. If this can is you, please contact me immediately. There is no limit to the amount of support these two women need.

I'll just be down for a short time. I have to pick up a car that was part of the TAG visit program and also ask the Taiji locals how they feel about the new dvds they received in their mailboxes.

And the fateful stars align even further...

There's the Japanese nationalists. Not just the local Shingu right wing, not just the Osaka right wing, but also the Tokyo right wing infamous for the vocal movie distribution protests are apparently coming to Taiji around March 17th to protest the pirates, others saving dolphins and those Japanese that have been supportive in nearby towns.

Oh, how do you plan for a party for people you don't want to invite but you know are coming anyway? I have a few ideas. They came to town last March also and I saw how they work.

I recommend love and respect for the dolphins and tough love and earned respect for the humans who still think that baby dolphins are a food group.

For the dolphins and for us, thank you for caring!
Steven Thompson
TAG Co-Founder

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Taiji 19/01/2011

Our friend Kerry writes about her final day in Taiji ~ Thank you Kerry for being a wonderful representative for the dolphins.

Dear wee souls in Taiji Whale museum. Forever in my heart.
I could not have wished for a more wonderful last day in Taiji. I woke and went down to Taiji early. All boats were out and the sick twisted feeling in my stomach kicked in. Friends and I stood at the lookout point for 3 hours watching the banger boats way down south of Taiji. About half way through the morning they seemed to have a pod. We could see them line up in their dreaded military formation. Here we go I thought. Something very strange happened over the next half an hour, as the banger boats moved far out from south position to 45 degrees opposite the harbour (still a way out), they appeared to be followed by 4 ships that were out there. The ships actually were moving around with the banger boats and interfering obviously with the hunt.  Friends who have been coming here for several years to document the Dolphin killings were as astonished as I. This had not been noted before. The pod obviously lost, the Fishermen gave up their hunt to return to Taiji harbour. Oh Joy! I was left wondering about the international ships out at sea. Perhaps our news and cause is finally getting out there.
Dancing for Dolphins!
Who knows who is on those ships. Perhaps they are Australians, Americans, Europeans or Japanese people who abhor the hunting of Dolphins? I can but speculate, but It was a wonderful sight to behold! We returned to the hotel in jubilant spirits. The last week had been very hard for us all and the 40 Striped Dolphins taken the day before had broken all our hearts. A call came from Tokyo that all our footage from the past few days was needed. Ric O'Barry was in Tokyo along with Jeff and others. The press were meeting them to report on the Sting concert and the events of the past few days at the Cove. All very encouraging news for all. 148 newspapers around the world overnight have reported Sting's comments in Tokyo last night.
I feel as I pack to leave Japan today that much has happened in the past 2 weeks. I also feel cautious optimism for all here in Taiji and for the world's beloved Dolphins. A shift has definitely occurred and hope is in the air. All the dear people who have worked hard for positive change in Taiji, can see a glimpse of what freedom and peace could be.
I return home today with much to do for my family and our cause. I also return home a more enriched and and thankful woman. My experience here in Japan has exceeded all my hopes and  my prayers are beginning to be answered, and I am truly humbled by my experiences.
God Bless all the people in Japan, all Dolphins past present and future and all of you my brave and wonderful friends.

For the Oceans. Kerry. xxx

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Taiji 18/01/2010

From our good friend Kerry O'Brien in Taiji

Kerry with Jeff and Cochang. Positive change for Taiji
I could not write yesterday after the slaughter of 40 or so beautiful Striped Dolphins. I stood on the hill alone for quite a while (many have gone home this week), as Dolphins were yet again driven into the cove, feeling absolutely heart sick, praying and begging the universe to somehow step in and set them all free. Part of the pod did break away at the head of the harbour, and for this I am very thankful. At least some of their family are free and will carry on their genes , they are not lost forever. However I carry around with me the horrific memory of yesterday and It makes me even more resolved to carry on my work when I leave here tomorrow. I have learnt so much and what I came here for has exceeded my expectations. I now have an understanding of life here and no matter what, I care about the people , who have always been polite and hospitable towards me. I have engaged as many as possible in respectful conversation, even if it is just a polite good morning. I have met with Jeff Pantukhoff , dignitaries and professors, High Priests and Aquarium owners. Jeff is doing amazing and inspiring work to gain greater knowledge, understanding and problem solving here. It is not for me to discuss at this point, but take great heart every-one, I certainly have. There is a way through this for the good of all, and I will work with Jeff and other committed and dedicated people to achieve this. Everyone here during my stay from all groups have had their part to play here and all in a positive and respectful manner, for which I am thankful! There is no room here for anything other.
Praying now for a peaceful day, please join me and thank you so much for all your support. It is invaluable.

With Love, Kerry xxx

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Taiji 15/01/2011

Kerry during a huge whale stranding in
NZ last sept...Maui was her patient ;) ♥
The Boats stayed in harbour this day. I drove to the harbour with a feeling this would be so, and wanted to go to the lookout point to scan the open sea and meditate and send love and healing to the sea, the land and pray for all Cetaceans. I met with a new journalist friend for coffee. Another journalist was present and able to interpret better for us so what we were discussing the past few days allowed my understanding to become even clearer. We discussed the Dolphins on the rocks 2 days earlier. She had been present when I had asked the Taiji council member to Get the fishermen to attend the Dolphins and save them or end their suffering. If you read my previous blog for this day you will get the background on this discussion. My friend said that later a discussion by the Japanese official  I had spoken with had taken place with the fishermen. The fishermen said they could not get to the suffering Dolphins it seems a lot of chaos was going on that morning. I was aware of the chaos, the fishermen behind me on the cliff had been shouting on his cell phone for some time on two occasions, for what ever reason, he was disturbed by what was happening.  The chaos in the cove appeared to be more than usual as well. So, my message was received apparently and noted., which was , If you are going to slaughter Dolphins to please do so as quickly as possible and dont ever leave them to suffer. I also explained again why we all found that day so very upsetting and couldnt hold back my grief when I reiterated the story. They really did not understand our grief I feel, but the two journalists did hear me and seemed to understand my point of view finally.
So what I would like to say is, whatever the truth is here, we must keep the lines of communication open with all people be they fishermen, journalists, police, coastguard or town officials. As I learn more about Japaenese culture I know that force or aggressive expression of our views is stone walled. I believe and I pray , that maybe,just maybe my point got across and so God willing if this situation  happens again , is handled differently. We (and I include myself in this) really cannot judge or react until we have a better understanding of others point of view. When we have judged and criticised all that seems to happen is that great walls of stone go up, and take a long time and a lot of effort to navigate and cross. We must keep talking and we must hear what is said with respect. It takes strength , self control and patience to do this, but do this I will. My love for all Cetaceans is taking me on a personal journey where I have discovered strength, courage, patience , compassion and humbleness I didnt know I possessed. We all have these qualities and we all make our mistakes, I know I have while being here and will again. Whatever it takes to change all life for the better , we can achieve. I believe this with my heart and soul, for our beloved planet all all who live here, be it land or ocean. With love to all. Kerry <3

Friday, January 14, 2011

Taiji 14/01/2011

From Kerry O'Brien in Taiji

It's with heavy heart I report another day of slaughter in Taiji. A dear little family of Risso's Dolphins were driven into Taiji early this morning.As they came into the harbour I stood in the bitter wind praying and willing them to escape as others had yesterday. But this was a tiny pod and there were 11 Banger boats in uniform formation clanging their death poles and terrorising them.I stood alone with steely and desperate determination that they would not be driven into the cove, but it was not to be. The sight of the boats in formation is one that fills my heart with dread and makes me feel sickeningly helpless. The sound of the poles clanging as I've heard many a cove guardian say before is one I will never forget. it sounds like a death toll, which is exactly what it is. I stood and watched from our lookout point as Boats drove this small pod in. 11 boats against 10 beautiful Dolphins, one was a calf. The pod was circling the calf continually trying to protect him and every now and then we could see him look up out of the water, trying to look around and seeming desperately confused and frightened. It is the most devestating thing to see the fishermen bring Dolphins closer and closer into the cove with nets. The closer they draw them in the nearer they are to death. 2 Dolphin trainers arrived by skiff and 4 were chosen for captivity.The calf and three others . The other 6 were quickly slaughtered. You might think going to witness this day after day you would be able to cope better. I find it's getting harder. I just wept the whole time and as I write this tears roll down my cheeks and I can't get rid of the sick feeling that lingers in my stomach. So I bear witness for these beautiful Sea Angels who will forever be with me.

With love, Kerry. xxx

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Taiji 13th Jan 2011

Kerry O'Brien shares with us the frightful events of January 13th in Taiji where the killers of dolphins took cruelty and a lack of compassion to a whole new level - even for them.

Every day that Dolphins are slaughtered and captured in Taiji is a horrific one. Today, however another unimaginable cruel dimension was added. As fishermen were driving 20 or so striped Dolphins into the cove area for slaughter 4 escaped around the corner and beached themselves onto sharp volcanic rocks. They were trapped , injured , bleeding and frantically fighting for their lives. The horrible twisted feeling in my stomach grew as I waited for fishermen to come in a few metres and get them out....and I waited. No sign of help. They were left there struggling and fighting for their lives. The tiny cove of rocks they were trapped in was filling up with blood fast. For the fiirst time I was praying fishermen would come in and end it for them quickly. 20 mins went and I could bear it no longer. I turned to a Taiji town council member who stood behind me and asked him why the Dolphins were left to struggle and die in this morbid and agonising way. "Why cant your fishermen get in there and end it for them now!!!" I cried to him. He shrugged his shoulders and said "they are fish." when I questioned him further pointing out the horrific cruelty they were suffering he merely said he didnt feel anything for them and that it was obviously a cultural difference. He was polite about his cold and heartless comments. There were two young Norweigan girls filming beside me, in tears as we all were by this time, and for a moment I knew if I suggested we climb down the cliff and at least try to help them they would be with me. I know interferring with fishermens business can mean prison and I knew I could never help another Dolphin again if that was the case. So I stayed and I prayed and spoke to them, desperately hoping they could hear my words, and feel my love. 40 mins went by and a skiff looked like it was coming in with a net. Thank God I thought This is unbearable, please end it now! But No! They changed their minds and went out leaving Dolphins suffering amidst the rocks, drowning or bleeding to death. An old man who looked like a fisherman was shouting from the shore behind us by this time ranting and raving. they did not like us witnessing this horror obviously and were agitated. So why not go in and get the trapped Dolphins out and put them out of their misery!!!
Finally , after nearly an hour when the struggling Dolphins finally were dying, including a juvenille, divers came and dragged the last two out who were barely alive by their tails and we saw them finally drown.  I stood there shaking and feeling colder than I have ever felt before and very very sick.
I went back up there tonight. I had left my scarf  behind when I stumbled down the path to leave. The area felt absolutely horrible and I felt sick again for about an hour. friends checked there were no beached dead Dolphins left there. we could at least do that for them now. None were found.

I woud like us all to remember that earlier today the rest of this Dolphins pod , perhaps another 30 or so had escaped from Taiji Harbour while being driven in. The horror of today means most of us have forgotten this, so i remember it now and I give thanks for that. Please continue your prayers and positive visualisations for Dolphins. It did work today, we just were not to know the horror that awaiting these precious few. RIP Darling Dolphins, we fight on for you and we will never ever forget you. <3

Friday, January 7, 2011

So much to do...so many kind people…so much hope toward ending the hunt☺

I'm working with at least five groups of people this weekend.

First, there is a group of people highly focused on love--involved with loving and respectful ways of working with all players in the dolphin hunt drama. This includes Joe Noonan with Planetary Partners, coming to Taiji for the first time to lead a water healing ceremony on Sunday Jan 9th, 2011 at noon:-)

Second, several Japanese people have come forward to offer assistance and advice. Hiro, a Japanese lawyer, is helping to advise western activists on legal issues. His advice has settled all legal questions at this time. Discussion is intense--all of us take the dolphin issues very seriously. May we all work professionally!

Third, I'm working with another organization from the States coming to Tokyo. This organization gets has received easier access to decision makers in Tokyo because Sea Shepherd is making things so uncomfortable for the Japanese in the Southern Ocean and in Taiji.

Fourth, I'm working with the group coalescing around Ady Gil called Eyes on Taiji, which includes Ady's first trip to Japan today. I saw them in Kyoto yesterday along with Hiro Masaka, Kumiko and Ayumi. A good ratio: this is the first meeting I have been in on this issue where the Japanese out number the western activists.

Fifth, I'm working with dear friends at Sea Shepherd, Eyes on Taiji, and other groups and people, all sacrificing much to be in Taiji. I have the utmost respect for the people who have come so far to shine light for the dolphins.

Finally, I feel this more than ever--we need people to make friends in Taiji because the hurdle is the fact that people in Taiji are stopping change. We need to work with them in a way to make change possible. Further we need all of the individuals and groups supporting an end of the dolphin hunt to work together with care.

I am supported with advice from numerous wonderful people especially my wife and daughter and also Mark Bamberry from the Taiji Dolphin Action Group. I see the groups to be numerous and dealing with issues that make working together challenging. I keep telling myself it's for the dolphins, but the more I work in this the more it seems the dolphins are giving us a chance to learn to work together.

For the dolphins and for us,
TDAG Co-Founder