End the sister state relationship with Wakayama until they stop slaughtering dolphins annually.
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Dear Honorable Governor Rick Scott,
The Voices for Taiji Dolphins is requesting that you speak out against the Taiji, Japan Dolphin drive hunts. The great state of Florida has a sister state relationship with the Prefecture of Wakayama, where the town of Taiji is located. Tens of thousands of United States Citizens are 100% against these drive hunts. The Unites States Ambassador to Japan tweeted out earlier this year that the United States does not support Drive fisheries.
This relationship with Wakayama has been going on with the state of Florida from the early 1990’s. Not one time has Florida asked Wakayama to stop slaughtering dolphins, nor has the state come out and said they are opposed to this. This is a chance for you to represent the United States of America and the thousands of citizens that cannot get through to the Japanese Government and tell them that the great State of Florida opposes the slaughtering of dolphins and if they do not stop that the State of Florida will not continue its sister state relationship with Wakayama. Not only is the United States citizens opposed to it, but there are hundreds of thousands of other citizens of hundreds of other countries that are opposed to this as well. Governor Scott, you have the ability to single handily stop the dolphin slaughter.
Here are some facts about the slaughter that goes for 6 months a year in Japan. It is also a place that you are in a business and tourist relationship with and a place that kills thousands of dolphins. It is getting to the point where many people don’t even want to buy Japanese products and some organizations are calling for a boycott of the 2020 Olympics. These facts come from Savejapandolphins.org:
The Japan Government Fisheries Agency issued 19,300 permits to kill dolphins, porpoises and other small whales throughout Japan. The numbers killed in Japan varies from year to year. (In 2007, for example, 13,107 dolphins and small whales were reported killed in Japan waters. These numbers do not include the large whales killed by Japan under so-called “scientific” whaling permits in the North Pacific and Antarctic Oceans.) The number of dolphins killed has been decreasing in part due to successful efforts by the organizations to reduce sales of dolphin and whale meat in Japanese markets. The captivity market is what drives the hunts. The amount of dolphins kept to be sold to marine parks and swim with dolphin resorts has increased and the number of killed has decreased but not by much.
The other reason the kill rate is going down is that the Japanese fishermen are killing off dolphins, and there are simply not as many left to kill. About 1,200 to 1,800 of these are killed in the so-called dolphin drive hunt in Taiji, also known as “drive fishery.” As of this year alone, three types of dolphin species have already been slaughter and we are only in the second month with over 150 dolphins already being killed.
How do they capture the dolphins?
The fishermen of Taiji have developed a highly effective method of locating, capturing and eradicating dolphins, sometimes as many as one hundred or more in a single day. Before sunrise, about 26 fishermen board their 13 motorized boats and head out to deep water where the dolphins migrate. The dolphins have been using these migratory paths for thousands, perhaps millions, of years, and the hunters know exactly where to find them. When a school of dolphins swims by, the fishermen position their boats one behind the other, perfectly evenly spaced. Then they lower several stainless steel poles into the water, one on each side of each boat. The poles are flared out at the bottom much like a bell, which amplifies the sound produced when the hunters repeatedly hit the poles with hammers.
The noise creates a wall of sound underwater, and the dolphins suddenly find themselves trapped between this wall of sound and the shoreline. Trying to get away from the sound, the dolphins swim in the opposite direction, toward the shore. The dolphins' panic and loss of navigational sense enable the fishermen to drive them into a small, hidden Cove near Taiji harbor. The fishermen seal the mouth of the Cove with several nets, and the dolphins are trapped.
How do they kill the dolphins?
Just before sunrise, the fishermen herd the trapped dolphins into shallow water, close to the rocky beach. Here, they kill the dolphins with long, sharp spears. Often times, they stab the dolphins with sharp fishermen's hooks and haul the still living dolphins onto their boats. The cruelty is enormous. The dolphins thrash about in their own blood, and the air fills with their screams. This killing, called “humane” by government bureaucrats, has been documented by the Academy Award winning documentary, The Cove.
Since The Cove came out, the fishermen have altered their killing methods. The fishermen pull dolphins underneath an array of plastic tarps (set up to prevent us from filming the slaughter). There, the fishermen push a sharp metal spike into the dolphins' necks just behind the blowholes, which is supposed to sever the spinal cord and produce an instant "humane" death. In fact, there is film footage from hidden cameras that show the dolphins thrashing for minutes on end in agony. The fishermen even push wooden corks into the wounds to prevent spilling blood into the Cove, again to prevent from filming blood-red waters.
Why do they kill the dolphins?
Officially, the main purpose of the dolphin hunt is to provide dolphin meat to the Japanese people. But only a small minority of people in Japan actually eats the meat. During our many campaigns in Japan, we even got the impression that dolphin meat is considered "trashy," unlike the much more expensive whale meat.
DNA tests on meat labeled “whale meat” in Japanese markets have revealed the meat is in fact falsely labeled dolphin meat. Whale meat sells for more money than dolphin meat, so Japanese consumers are tricked into buying dolphin meat falsely labeled as "whale" meat.
There is another essential, and rather shocking, aspect to the dolphin hunt: During a meeting with the Taiji fishermen in January 2004, the fishermen said that they do not only hunt dolphins for their meat or for sale to the dolphinarium industry. In their own words, they kill the dolphins "as a form of pest control." The dolphins, from the fishermen’s perspective, eat too much fish, and the fishermen are simply killing the competition. This is the first time ever those Japanese dolphin hunters have openly admitted to executing pest control on dolphins. Over-fishing of the oceans is a tremendous problem on a global level, and the Japanese fishermen, supported by their government, are wrongly pointing at the dolphins as the reason for this depletion. The Japanese government is making the same false argument in front of the International Whaling Commission that whales eat fish and therefore need to be controlled by killing. The desire to keep the dolphin population down is a major reason why the Japanese government is so keen on issuing permits for the hunts. It is not really about providing meat for the Japanese people.
It is not really about maintaining what the fishermen repeatedly refer to as their "tradition" or "culture." It is about eradicating as many dolphins as possible in order to make the oceans' fish available to them. There are several areas in Japan where local dolphin populations have declined or been eradicated by this mentality, fully supported by the Japanese government.
In addition, the powerful Japan Fisheries Agency promotes the killing of dolphins and whales as part of Japan’s “food culture”, despite the fact that few Japanese are interested in eating whale and dolphin meat anymore, and huge surpluses are kept in refrigerated warehouses. The Agency sees their role as protecting the Japanese people from the consequences of overfishing worldwide – if environmentalists shut down whaling and dolphin killing, their reasoning goes, then other Japanese fishing methods and species might be attacked. The whaling staff of the Japan Fisheries Agency has an additional very personal incentive: sale of whale meat and government subsidies to protect whaling pays for their salaries. If whaling and dolphin killing end, these bureaucrats will be out of a job.
Why do members of the dolphinarium industry take advantage of the hunt?
Several conservationist groups have been reporting from Taiji regularly since 2003, and the most shocking aspect of the dolphin drive hunt is the active role that some dolphinariums play in sustaining the hunt. Dolphinariums are always looking for ways to obtain more dolphins. Many times, the fishermen of Taiji will drive a large school of bottlenose dolphins into the killing cove, and dolphin trainers and marine mammal veterinarians flock to the scene to seek out the best-looking dolphins for their display facilities. By doing business with the dolphin killers, they are helping to maintain the dolphin drive hunts.
A live dolphin sold to a dolphinarium brings in a much higher profit than does a dead dolphin sold as meat, which brings in about $600. In Taiji, live bottlenose dolphins have been sold for as much as $300,000 each. The dolphin massacres in Japan will likely continue for as long as members of the international dolphin display industry reward the fishermen with thousands of dollars for animals that are deemed suitable for commercial exploitation in captivity. Dolphinariums that work together with the Japanese dolphin killers are a major reason that the dolphin massacres are still going on.
Dolphinariums that purchase dolphins from the dolphin killers will tell you they are "saving" the dolphins from slaughter. This is nothing but propaganda, aimed at concealing the fact that they are fuelling the dolphin hunt by making it tremendously profitable. Working side by side, dolphin trainers and fishermen force the dolphins into shallow water, haul the dolphins ashore and line them up. The trainers then inspect the dolphins one by one, choosing only the ones that can be used in dolphin shows and captive dolphin swim programs. They are typically looking for young, unblemished dolphins. They "save" only the ones that can be commercially exploited in the display industry. The ones that are too old, too young, have the wrong gender or have too many blemishes are not worth "saving" to them, so they let the fishermen kill them.
Some dolphin trainers have been seen to assist the fishermen in bringing the rejects to the killing cove to have their throats slit. They don't even bother to inspect the very young babies, knowing that they can't be used in dolphin shows.
Using ropes and physical force, dolphin trainers separate the babies from their mothers. They haul the mothers close to the rocky beach to measure and inspect them. The babies cry out, but they are doomed. The dolphin trainers are not going to help them. If these dolphin trainers and marine mammal veterinarians were into "saving" dolphins, they would be there with a protest sign and video cameras, just like we are. Instead, they take advantage of the dolphin slaughter to nourish the huge profits made from captive dolphins.
The grueling selection process drags on for several hours, and some dolphins die from shock, injuries or exhaustion during this time. Some make frantic attempts at staying at the surface of the water, but their pectoral fins have been dislocated or broken. An injured dolphin is worth nothing to the aquarium industry and the dolphin trainers simply haul the dying dolphins back into the water and dump them, showing no emotion whatsoever.
What's wrong with eating dolphin meat?
Cruelty issues set aside, dolphin meat from drive hunts in Taiji, Wakayama prefecture, proved to be highly contaminated with toxic chemicals such as mercury, methyl mercury and PCBs. Repeated chemical analyses have shown that the level of mercury in dolphin meat is much higher than the maximum allowable level set by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare of Japan and the World Health Organization. The contamination of dolphin meat by mercury in Japan has been documented time and time again, by both nongovernmental organizations and by Japanese scientists. There is worldwide concern that mercury accumulated in the human body poses a serious health risk, especially to pregnant women and children. The contaminated dolphin meat does not have a warning label.
This year the Taiji fishermen left two pilot whales in an ocean sea pen during the biggest typhoon to ever hit Japan. The world watched on livestream as they starved these whales for days and after the typhoon the pilot whales that were on their sides dying were taken out of the pens to be disposed of.
The other thing they do during the slaughter is make the juveniles and babies that are too small to be counted to the quota watch as their family gets killed right in front of them.
They then tie a rope to their tailfin and drag them out back to see to fend for themselves. This is going to destroy the dolphin population as you are giving the species no chance for sustainability and growth.
Every single animal conservationist organization and the majority of the scientific field strongly oppose the drive hunts. Several countries have spoken out against it. It is time for the Unities States to take a stand and as Florida has this sister state relationship with Wakayama then Florida has the largest voice. It’s time to tell Wakayama to stop killing dolphins and if they don’t then immediately end your sister state relationship with Wakayama. Do the right thing and represent your country and the concerned citizens who live here. We also strongly urge you to watch The Cove so you can see firsthand what goes on in Taiji.
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