Words by Dave Rastovich
One week ago a group of 30 surfers from around the world gathered to help spread the grim reality of mass Dolphin kills in Japan. I organised this gathering and wish to clarify the finer details of the event.
The media has played this event in the usual manner. Dramatise and make it a fight between ''good and bad''. We aren't 'good' and the fishermen aren't 'bad'. We are either informed or uninformed. As long as we( the general population) buy into the conceptualisation that we are separate from each other and that one of us is good or bad we will continue to be played by the industries and governments who want us to continue squabbling and not focussing on the actual issue of ocean degradation. I write this, because I can see that surfers are already starting to label each other as 'evil, racist, culturally insensitive, or heroes' this is is proof that we are buying into the formula that the industries want us to. "Distract the public so they fight amongst themselves, and we can go do our dirty work stripping the oceans..."
These are birthing pains. We are on the verge of our global family working together to ensure our childrens children can surf, and that they won't be the only warm blooded mammals doing so.
Surfers can't ignore pollution, overfishing, and destruction of species when our waters return us to shore with disease and loneliness. Do you know that pregnant women don't ever go in the surf in Japan. Miscarriage is highly probable if they enter the water there. I am sure everyone knows how dangerous it is to surf after heavy rains in Southern California, South America, Australia and virtually every other coastline with flowing rivers. The time is now, our fathers and mothers did not have this information or situation, but we do, and we cannot ignore it.
The sequence of events are as follows:
- Saturday 27th October
Thirty surfers formed a ceremonial surfers circle to honour our fellow wave riders who have been murdered in Taiji for many years. The police and local fishermen observed our circle and our peaceful ceremony received no resistance at the time.
- Monday 29th October
Fishermen had captured 25 Pilot Whales and begun the slaughter process before sunrise.
A group of six surfers from the previous ceremony arrived at the killing cove at 7 am to perform another paddle out circle. The group had no possible way to free the ten remaining Pilot Whales that were swimming in the blood of their family members who had been killed minutes before our arrival. The fishermen had three layers of nets blocking the exit of the cove. Four kill boats plus a slaughter barge were also stationed 80 metres outside of those nets. The boats could drive stray Cetaceans straight back into the cove in a matter of seconds.
After disrupting the fishermen's killing business for 25 minutes the group was forced to return to shore due to escalated aggression from the fishermen, and knowing there was nothing the small group could do for the ill fated Pilot Whales.
Upon leaving the Wakayama city limit a police armada stopped the group, recorded passport details and let them go.
The philosophy behind the event is as follows:
- Through a respectful and peaceful ceremony the group intended to bring the issue of mass Dolphin kills to world attention. To alert the Japanese public of this issue and promote the exchange of information that comes from unbiased sources that have no vested interest in the issue.
- Through interaction with Japanese it is obvious many are not aware of the fact that 26,000 Dolphins are killed every year in Japan, and that Dolphin/Whale meat exceeds Japan's Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare advised 0.4ppm mercury limit.
- Recent tests on Dolphin/Whale meat show higher levels of mercury than those found in fish that caused the tragedy of Minamata Disease in the 1950's.
- The surfers group is focussed on Japanese having the ability to make an informed decision on this issue. Japanese Fisheries is supplying Japanese public with mis-information that best suits their industries own financial aims.
- If the drives are a source of cultural pride, why do the fishermen and their industry hide their actions and intimidate anyone who wants to document the kills?
- Why does the general Japanese population know nothing of the Dolphin Drives?
- Why is there no warning of the dangers of Mercury poisoning?
- Why is Fisheries and the government keeping this danger away from public knowledge, when mercury levels in current Dolphin/Whale meat exceed those that created Minamata Disease in the 1950's?
- Where is the scientific evidence to back up the notion that Dolphins and Whales are responsible for declining fish stocks?
This is an action designed to bring people together, peacefully maintaining full respect for Japanese culture. The group intends to expose the mis-information campaign set forth by Japan Fisheries, and allow the Japanese public to make an informed decision on the issue of Whaling and Dolphin Kills, Mercury poisoning, and the sustainable option of Whale/Dolphin Watch business.