Newsweek Engulfed In Social Media Backlash on Eve of Historic WAZA Dolphin Protest


 

By Kirsten Massebeau

A Newsweek article entitled “A Social Media Storm Descends on Taiji, the Japanese Town at the Center of a Dolphin Slaughter” is on the cover of Newsweek. The cover image depicts a red wave with blue birds flying towards the heavens. The cover states, “Twitter Tsunami, A Japanese Fishing Village Unleashes a Social Media Storm”. Newly resurrected Newsweek author Bill Powell comes on strong painting a romantic picture of a small “fishing village”. He calls the hunt tradition despite the recently revealed information that the dolphin drive began in 1969. Through-out Bill Powell’s Newsweek article he describes the experiences of a “slight elderly woman” who does not understand why dolphin advocates are coming from around the world to speak out for the dolphins captured and slaughtered in “The Cove“. The real truth is hunters and dolphin trainers work side by side sorting through dolphin pods, selecting the juveniles, and slaughtering their parents, the injured, and unwanted by aquariums using a technique called pithing that can be viewed here.

Powell cleverly vilifies the social media movement portraying the dolphin hunters as a group of quiet “fisherman” plagued by the cruel outside world. He uses the word “tsunami” bringing up painful memories for the Japanese people, connecting the term to social media. He continues using the “elderly woman’s” impressions making the hunters and captive industry seem helpless victims of a modern world:

“She also knows that Caroline Kennedy, the high-profile U.S. ambassador to Japan, helped fuel the global outrage with a tweet on January 17, 2014, saying “she was deeply concerned by the “inhumane-ness” of the hunt”. But Isoda, like most members of the local fishing families, is unapologetic-and quietly bitter over how her little fishing village has been vilified by celebrities and civilians all over the world.”

The global anger generated by the annual dolphin drive is the latest example of how social activism is being transformed by technology”.(source)

Angel was the first dolphin removed from the pod. It was rumored that her mother  committed an act of suicide when Angel was ripped from her side. Whether she committed suicide, was slaughtered, or driven back out to sea will never be known. Powell foolishly quotes a dolphin hunter calling albino-ism and illness when in fact it occurs in many species including humans. In addition to claiming a wild albino dolphin who has the protection of her mother, a deep ocean, and a mega pod is better off in a shallow pool with strangers demonstrates his skewed source.

“A local official in Taiji denies that albinos can fetch such an exorbitant price. They’re white “because of disease,” he adds, and thus are actually more likely to survive longer in captivity than in the ocean”.(source)

The above video is Angel being bullied at the Taiji Whale Museum in a cramped tank.

Despite Bill Powell, and Newsweek’s attempt to throw up a smokescreen for Taiji the truth has surfaced and is not going away. When a mega pod of bottlenose dolphins was pushed into the cove this January the world would watch day after day as the juveniles were taken captive and their parents then slaughtered for fertilizer:

“A wild dolphin caught in Taiji, for example, will sell for around $500-600 US for its meat. But a live trained dolphin will sell on the international market for as much as $150,000 US. The huge prices offered by JAZA and WAZA member aquariums for live dolphins sustain the brutal Taiji killing of hundreds of dolphins each year, which would likely collapse without the aquarium trade”.(source) In addition, the meat is toxic and unfit for human consumption despite Bill Powell’s claims!

It seems Newsweek’s Bill Powell has unleashed his own social media backlash as comments of outrage continue to load into the article. Newsweek cannot delete the angry comments of the masses quickly enough, stating their Newsweek subscriptions will be cancelled, calling Newsweek irresponsible, and corrupt.

The release of Bill Powell’s skewed article seems almost strategically released by Newsweek on the eve of a historic event. On March 28, 2014, only hours away, demonstrators will convene at the headquarters of The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) demanding they sever their ties with The Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums (JAZA) whose members, specifically the Taiji Whale Museum are trafficking blood dolphins to aquariums worldwide:

“Ric O’Barry, Director of Earth Island Institute’s Dolphin Project, will attend a demonstration in front of the offices of WAZA in Gland, Switzerland. O’Barry and members of the environmental coalition are expected to be received by WAZA Director, Dr. Gerald Dick, and his lawyer in front of the media, where the environmental coalition will demand the organization expel their “Association Member” Japan Association of Zoos & Aquariums (JAZA), over violations of the WAZA Code of Ethics & Animal Welfare in relation to the brutal Taiji dolphin drive hunts in Japan, fueled and financed by the international dolphin captivity industry, including JAZA and WAZA member aquariums.

Joining Ric O’Barry, thanks to the generous sponsorship of the Cetacean Society International and the Swiss nonprofit OceanCare, is Sakae Hemmi of ELSA Nature Conservancy of Japan and one of the first persons to film and publicize the slaughters, along with numerous activists dressed up for the occasion. Ms. Hemmi and Elsa recently pleaded with WAZA Director Dick, in a series of letters from Japan, to stop the subsidizing of the dolphin hunts by aquariums that are members of JAZA and WAZA”.(source)

 Join the event in Switzerland or join us on social media as we move together as one voice sending out a Thunderclap for dolphins, highly intelligent beings, citizens of the ocean, that are being captured and slaughtered in The Cove. All the Bill Powell’s of the world cannot stop the terrible truth of the modern day dolphin horror taking place in Taiji, a dolphins worst nightmare. We are not a social media “tsunami”, we are the light that is shining brighter and brighter as the dark truth about what goes on in the cove is exposed to world in an attempt to end the dolphin death and suffering.

On March 31, 2014 Louie Psiyhoyas director of the academy award winning film has come out in defense of dolphins condemning the slanted article by Newsweek glorifying and romanticizing the brutal slaughter and capture of dolphins for marine parks in Taiji Japan:

[Editor's Note: The following is a response from Louie Psihoyos, Director of The Cove, to a March 27 Newsweek story by Bill Powell.]

I usually don’t respond to our few detractors, but the recent article in Newsweek seemed deserving because the misinformation it contained might be believed. Mr. Powell’s article contains false equivalence and journalistic cowardice that insists that every story must have two sides. It’s also devoid of basic fact checking.

I hope to set the record straight by clarifying a few of the article’s claims, and by releasing unedited footage from The Cove that has never been seen before, so that the public can determine for themselves that none of the footage we used was doctored.

“Mistrust of the filmmakers and anti-hunt activists is so intense that some villagers, who say the water never turns that red during the killing, believe the producers later added the lurid color with special effects. The filmmakers adamantly deny this.”

I have always said that the slaughter we showed in The Cove was the Disney version of what actually happens behind the tarps. It seems that now it’s time to show the truth of how barbaric the Taiji fishermen and their renegade mayor really are, (Read the article and see the unseen raw footage here!)

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An Era Ends as Dolphin, and BBC Wildlife Photographer-Filmmaker is Denied Entrance to Japan


By Kirsten Massebeau

On February 14, 2014 (Japan time), Martyn Stewart dolphin and BBC wildlife photographer-filmmaker was held in custody at Osaka Airport where he was grilled by Japanese authorities, and  eventually expelled from the country following a grueling interrogation. Martyn reached out to his many friends and followers from his detention cell at Osaka Airport, posting on Facebook:

“I am Locked in a cell room at Osaka airport waiting on an appeal to the high minister regarding my entry into Japan. I’m accused of being sea shepherd and an Eco terrorist, my footage is not liked in Japan apparently and have been accused of assaulting members of the public. In 4 years of being here for the dolphins I have maintained the law and abided by their rules. My words and pictures did the rest. The government of Japan will do anything to protect the rights of the fishermen of Taiji and the barbaric treatment of the animals involved.
Please share far and wide to bring awareness to this corrupt government and those that want to continue to brutally treat these amazing animals. The condition I’m in and the treatment I have received is nothing short of criminal”. — at Kansai Airport Line.

“Incredible feelings again in my stomach, I never thought i would come back here again so soon but things just happen like this in life, weird! It’s not the place you would want to keep coming back to, i mean you wouldn’t keep going back to a shitty restaurant, right! This place just has me tied up too much though, i hate the thought of abandoning these animals and i feel it every-time i leave. My promise to them was i would always come back until i knew it would stop. Whether it be because they want to stop (fishermen) or because they become extinct. We just have to be their voice”…. January 2013, in Wakayama-shi, Japan.(Martyn Stewart)

While Martyn Stewart of Nature’s Sound is known for his beautiful recordings of birds and wildlife for documentaries, his images and video documentation of the cruel dolphin drives in Taiji, Japan are legendary. His passion can be seen in his pictures and videos, of the terrible dolphin suffering he has witnessed over the years as he documented the dolphin drive in Taiji. His videos and images have compelled many activists to speak out, and take action, for the dolphins.

While many of the photographers coming to Taiji keep their lenses focused on the dolphin victims only, Martyn goes further. He took the lens of his camera beyond the dolphin suffering capturing images of the small group of people who are profiting from the sale of dolphins dead and alive. Above is an image of Mr. Myoshi owner of the Dolphin Resort, and a broker of dolphins. Each trained dolphin he sells to aquariums can bring him up to 200,000 while a dead dolphin brings the hunters the equivalent of hundreds of  dollars for the butchered meat which is sold for human consumption, dog food, and fertilizer (bottlenose dolphins). The meat is Mercury laden and toxic yet the slaughter and consumption by a few continues.

While taking portrait images is frowned upon in Japan, Martyn’s pictures of those involved in the dolphin drives have sparked the global community in a profound way leading the viewers to question how Marine Parks have become so entwined the terrible capture and slaughter of these highly intelligent beings, dolphins and small whales. The dolphin trainers, many of whom are certified by the International Marine Animals Trainer Association (IMATA), work side by side with the hunters simultaneously selecting the young beautiful dolphins for captivity, while slaughtering the older dolphins their parents, and grandparents. One might think that IMATA would vehemently oppose dolphin drive fisheries claiming they love dolphins yet the opposite is true. IMATA welcomes trainers from dolphin drive fisheries:

“Any individual who believes in IMATA’s mission and who supports its goals is welcomed into the membership. This means that if an individual works for an organization that acquires dolphins from a drive fishery, up to and including participating in the selection and collection of live animals, s/he is welcomed by IMATA”.(source)

While the Taiji ISANA “Fisherman’s” Union claims the hunt is “tradition” history tells a very different story. It is no wonder the dolphin hunters go to such great lengths to hide the bodies of their dolphins victims who suffer and die so slowly under the tarps draped so skillfully over the blood filled shallows of the killing cove. In a recent article entitled, “Taiji Dolphin Drive Hunt Is Not A Tradition”, Mark Palmer of Earth Island Institute quotes star and co creator of academy award winning documentary, The Cove, Ric O’Barry who explains that in fact the Taiji, dolphin drives are not “tradition”:

“This claim of ‘Japanese tradition’ is nonsense,” stated Ric O’Barry, Director of Earth Island’s Dolphin Project.  “The dolphin drive hunts, according to the town’s own written history, says a couple of drive hunts occurred in 1936 and 1944, but the current series of hunts only began in 1969(source).

“We do not want these animals to have died in vain. They died because of ignorance. The next pod caught is partly in your hands. Talk, educate, be proactive”. November, 2013— at太地町.(Martyn Stewart)

The capture of dolphins for aquariums and marine parks  is a multi-million dollar industry that the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA), and their partners the Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums (JAZA) who sits on WAZA’s animal ethics board of directors do not want to see end. The dolphins born in captivity cannot fill the demand for display dolphins hence the need is filled with blood dolphins.

While Martyn will no longer be exposing, and reporting on the dolphin capture and slaughter in Taiji, Japan his time spent there was not in vain. Martyn Stewart showed us the faces and suffering behind the dolphin slaughter and capture. His pictures and video are timeless as is his is an example to us all practicing what he preaches. He is a strict vegan, and true animal lover, who will never be silenced in his quest to help all living creatures, and to expose animal suffering whenever and wherever it occurs.

Leaving the land that kill dolphins and small wales, leaving animals that I so much promised I would be with until this insanity stops, leaving with a sence of failure yet one of pride that I did what I could and I will never forget that. Leaving a country that so much needs our guidance and not interference, leaving Taiji in a far worse state than I found it in. Leaving behind many friends that I made and will probably never see again. Leaving a large piece of my heart on a beach in Taiji — at Kansai International Airport.(Martyn Stewart)

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