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Auckland Rally Against 2014 Dolphin Hunting Season

Auckland Rally Aims to Galvanize Opposition to 2014 Dolphin Hunting Season

More than 50 people marched on Auckland’s Queen Street yesterday calling for the Japanese government to outlaw the annual mass slaughter and capture of dolphins that occurs during every half-year hunting season in Taiji Cove.

The march was lead up Queen Street by 20-year-old Auckland student Jade Alexander, who was motivated to organize the rally by her own shock upon learning recently that the annual dolphin drive hunt was legal.

Ahead of the march, Green MP Mojo Mathers addressed the crowd in Queen Elizabeth Square, telling those gathered that the slaughter of dolphins was an issue that needed to be addressed in both Japan and New Zealand where the practices of the local fishing industry endangered Maui dolphins, which are on the brink of extinction.

In each hunting season in Japan, more than 20,000 dolphins, porpoises and small whales are killed for their meat and others are netted for transferral to captivity in marine mammal parks.

Ms Mathers says, “New Zealanders love dolphins, whales and all our sea mammals and want to protect them, this rally gives us all a chance to show we care and protect them from cruel practices like this hunt.”

At the conclusion of the rally, outside the Japanese Consulate on Shortland Street, Mathers and Alexander, presented a letter to the Consul-General of Japan in Auckland, calling for the Japanese government to immediately and permanently renounce its practice of capturing and killing dolphins.

Alexander has amassed support from interest groups including SAFE, the Green Party and the Cove Guardians (the Taiji dolphin defense campaigners who are part of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society). Troy Coyle, a Sea Shepherd Cove Guardian, spoke on behalf of the organisation at the rally.

Mandy Mathers, campaign manager at SAFE, says the rally provides New Zealanders with an opportunity to oppose this practice.

“This horrific massacre of dolphins has got to stop. Not only do they suffer the horrors of the hunt and a brutal death, many more experience the pain and anguish of being separated from their family members and shipped off to marine theme parks. It is appalling that these smart and sensitive animals, who in the wild would live in large and intricate social groups, are killed or condemned to a life in captivity. The march in Auckland provided an opportunity for Kiwi’s to stand and up and say ‘we oppose the hunt.’”

The geography of the Taiji environs – immortalized in the Oscar-winning 2009 documentary The Cove – is such that fishermen are able to herd families of cetaceans into shallow bays, where they kill them using a method that involves driving a metal rod into the spine. The mammals then bleed to death or drown. Those bottlenose dolphins most resembling Flipper are captured to order and exported to marine mammal parks, where they will perform as circus animals. Each dolphin can fetch upward of US$200,000.

Alexander says, “This cruelty does not resemble what most of us understand to be fishing, commercial or otherwise. What’s more, these activities are internationally notorious and are degrading the Japanese people and their culture and heritage. I am asking New Zealanders to join the international chorus of people calling for this slaughter and abuse to stop once and for all.

“If people were unable to attend the rally, they can make their views known by signing the petition via the Facebook page, ‘Rally against Japan’s dolphin hunting’. They can also oppose the captivity of dolphins by refusing to patronize marine mammal parks when they travel to Australia and further afield – fortunately, New Zealand has none.

“The Japanese government is doing an enormous disservice to its people, both by permitting this damage to its national reputation and by sheltering the population from the facts about dolphin meat, which is so high in mercury that it is toxic to humans. The government does not publicize this fact and allows mislabelling of dolphin meat as whale meat, which poses a major public health risk.”

Fact Sheet
The Save the Dolphins rally took place on Friday 28 March from 12pm;
The rally began at Queen Elizabeth Square and proceeded up Queen Street, ending outside the Japanese Consulate on Shortland Street;
The rally’s speakers include Green MP Mojo Mathers and Troy Coyle, a Sea Shepherd Cove Guardian;
During each dolphin drive hunting season from September to March, more than 20,000 cetaceans, including dolphins, porpoises and small whales, are killed, and many more are captured to spend the rest of their lives in captivity in marine parks around the world.

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