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‘Journos Abroad’ Only the Japanese can Save the Dolphins

Submitted by on April 25, 2012 – 2:44 pmNo Comment

 

Left to right: Documentary director Ric O'Barry and Allan Zeman chairman of Ocean Park after their debate.

Ric O’Barry, known from the documentary “The Cove”, recognises the film has done a lot of good, yet publicity is only a first step in saving marine life.

O’Barry visited Hong Kong Baptist University for a screening of the film and to debate against Allan Zeman, chairman of Ocean Park, a Hong Kong theme park known for its dolphin shows.

The events were organised by the HKBU branch of Aiesec, a global student exchange scheme. Vriko Séraphina Kwok, head organiser of the events said:

“It took six months of hard work, lack of sleep and thousands of emails, but we are so delighted and thrilled to have Mr. O’Barry here. The media attention the debate has stirred has been overwhelming and we hope this will help save the dolphins this much faster.”

O’Barry used the events to build on the messages of the film, criticising the trend of dolphinariums and dispelling popular myths shrouding the issue:

“The cove is a small, small part of the problem. It is one of the most visual, which is why we chose it, but in the end it is nothing more than 48 men killing dolphins in a small village in Japan. The problem is global, not just overfishing, but also the idea that dolphins are some kind of entertainment. There are 50 dolphin shows in Japan and over 170 million people have visited them.”

Zeman defended his business: “This is a question of conservation and education. We have a record amount of births and every guest leave our shows knowing more about the problems marine life faces. “

The movie has been a success in the west, but 127 million Japanese people haven’t seen it. It has not been without results though, the killings in the cove, which normally start in September, were delayed for one month due to lower demand. The cove had lost one of its biggest customers; schools which used dolphin meat for lunch programs. The fact that schools had previously used dolphin meat which is known to contain amounts of mercury high enough to poison children and pregnant women still baffles O’Barry:

“One of the biggest victories has been warning labels on canned dolphin and awards for hotels and restaurants that refuse to use the meat.

If we want to change this we need to put pressure on the International Whaling Commission. First, there is no need to hunt whales today and secondly The Alliance of Marine Shows has successfully lobbied the commission into keeping dolphins off the endangered list. The commission is a ship of fools.

But that’s the bigger issue. The cove itself is in the hands of the Japanese youth, they need to act. I’ve been back to the village every year, but what we need is a huge non-violent protest.

 

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