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The Taiji Dolphin Drive: Cultural Tradition or Slaughter? – An evening with Ric O’Barry and Izumi Ishii
- Ric O'Barry (Director of the Dolphin Project of the Earth Island Institute)
- Izumi Ishii (Advocator for ocean habitat and organizer of dolphin & whale watching tours)
Ric O’Barry is one of the world’s most recognized experts on protecting dolphins and whales. As Director of the Dolphin Project of the Earth Island Institute, he has become a leading spokesman for animal rights. Ric’s work became internationally known especially through the Academy Award winning documentary “The Cove,” which depicted his efforts to rescue dolphins from the annual dolphin hunt in Taiji, Japan. His work has also been featured in the Animal Planet series “Blood Dolphins,” and he is the author of several books, including “Behind the Dolphin Smile,“; “To Free a Dolphin,” and the children’s book “The Adventure of Happyface,” which has been translated and released in Japan. For further information, please visit http://www.dolphinproject.org/For this special event, Ric will be joined by Izumi Ishii, a 6th generation fisherman and 3rd generation dolphin hunter from the town of Futo, Japan. Although Ishii was one of the early figures in Japan who helped develop the dolphin drive killings in Japan in 1969, his experiences provoked him to reconsider this practice and in 1997 he turned against the dolphin hunts and urged Japan to stop dolphin killing and consider dolphins to be the symbol of a living ocean. He now runs whale and dolphin-watching cruises from his boat in Futo, explaining to passengers about the history of killing dolphins in Futo and why he decided to end his hunts. The town of Futo has not conducted any dolphin captures since 2004 (only 9 dolphins were caught that year, all for sale to marine parks), and has become a major location for recreational SCUBA diving and other tourism opportunities. For further information of his activities, please visit https://sv361.xserver.jp/~tes-sev/kohkaimaru.com/?l=2Since the release of “The Cove,” the Japanese dolphin drives in Taiji have become a flashpoint for debates on Japan’s historical legacies as they relate to international norms. Whereas nostalgic traditionalists (including the Japanese right-wing Uyoku) have defended Japanese dolphin drives as a deeply rooted cultural tradition, critics have claimed that this presumably archaic historical tradition is in fact a recent development among a limited group of fisherman who exploit animals for economic gain and “play the culture card” as a way to defend their practices. Moreover, as the film “The Cove” described, dolphin meat from the hunts, much of which has been contaminated from mercury and PCB toxins, have found their way into the Japanese market place, and been used in public school lunches, a scandal that has raised issues of transparency, public health and consumer choice.
This event will provide a forum to discuss these controversial issues with two of the most influential figures who brought these issues to widespread, international attention.
Director of the Dolphin Project of the Earth Island Institute
Ric O’Barry is one of the world’s most recognized experts on protecting dolphins and whales. As a dolphin trainer at the Miami Seaquarium, USA and trainer of wild dolphins for the hit television series Flipper, he was intimately involved in the commercial captive dolphin industry in the 1960s. After becoming disillusioned with the commercial exploitation of these animals, having witnessing first-hand their cruel treatment, he walked away from his job of capturing and training dolphins. Through the Ric O’Barry Dolphin Project at the Earth Island Institute, and his commitment to stop the Dolphin hunt in Taiji, he has worked toward a broader understanding of animal rights. In 2009, the story of Ric’s life and his efforts to protect Taiji dolphins from the hunts was featured in the Oscar-award winning documentary, The Cove. His work has also been featured in the Animal Planet series Blood Dolphins, and he is the author of several books, including Behind the Dolphin Smile, To Free a Dolphin, and the children’s book The Adventure of Happyface, which has been translated and released in Japan.
Advocator for ocean habitat and organizer of dolphin & whale watching tours
Izumi Ishii (Mr.) is a 3rd generation dolphin hunter from Futo, Shizuoka, who has become an animal rights activist, speaking out against the Japanese dolphin slaughters. In 1997, despite pressure and threats from his peers, he stopped hunting dolphins and instead has embraced dolphin and whale watching as a humane alternative that respects the life and dignity of animals while advocating the importance of protecting their natural habitat.