On Monday, August 1, 2016, we sent the following Open Letter to the leaders of the Broome Shire Council in Australia. Broome is a sister-city of Taiji, Japan.
The Hon. Ron Johnston, Shire President, PO Box 31 Broome WA, Australia 6725
The Hon. Kenn Donohoe, Chief Executive Officer, Shire of Broome, PO Box 44, Broome WA 6725
Dear President Johnston & CEO Donohoe:
In 2009, the stunning documentary “The Cove” came out, depicting the exceedingly cruel and unnecessary slaughter of intelligent and social dolphins in the town of Taiji, Japan. This hunt only began in 1969, so is hardly a “traditional” practice, and is heavily subsidized by the sale of live trained dolphins to aquariums throughout Asia and the Middle East.
Our organization, the International Marine Mammal Project of Earth Island Institute, through our Save Japan Dolphins Campaign, contacted Broome authorities in 2009. The Broome Council severed its sister-city relationship with Taiji, Japan.
More recently, the Broome Council restored its sister-city status with Taiji, Japan, but noted at the time that the Council would work with their Taiji associates to see if some resolution could be made in the tragic dolphin slaughter.
It is now seven years since “The Cove” documentary came out. Our organization with the support of others has succeeded in reducing the number of dolphins being killed by 62% since the beginning of our Save Japan Dolphins Campaign in 2004. This is due to our educational efforts in Taiji and other areas of Japan about the severe dangers of mercury contamination in Taiji dolphin meat. Mercury is the most poisonous substance on Earth next to Plutonium. The levels found in dolphin meat by Japanese scientists are much higher than levels recommended by the Japanese health authorities and the World Health Organization. But Japan has exempted mercury restrictions from all seafood, including dolphin meat.
The people of Taiji are being poisoned by their own government’s lack of concern. Taiji is also a major player in efforts to re-start commercial whaling in Japan, and Taiji takes part in so-called “scientific” whaling which has been condemned by the International Whaling Commission and ruled illegal by the World Court in the Hague. Yet, the government of Japan persists in promoting the killing of whales and dolphins.
We have also succeeded in having the Japan Association of Zoos and Aquariums vote to end the sourcing of live dolphins from Taiji for JAZA member aquariums. This still leaves a large market for exported live dolphins.
We believe the Broome Council is in a position to help end the dolphin slaughter in Taiji through your special relationship.
We believe the people of Taiji would benefit from ending the killing of dolphins and have offered to provide them with support for a transition away from killing of dolphins to support of eco-tourism.
Can you contact your colleagues in Taiji and ask them to end the dolphin hunts? A strong stand against the hunts by the Broome Council would go a long way.
Can you encourage your colleagues in Taiji to meet with Earth Island representatives?
The tragic Taiji hunts are scheduled to begin again on September 1st.
Will the Broome Council take action to help save the dolphins?
Thank you for your consideration of our views.
David Phillips, Director, and Mark J. Palmer, Associate Director.
Photo by Rob Gilhooly.