Salem conservation group on Newport Bayfront protest Japanese dolphin kill as portrayed in award winning film “The Cove”
A group of young conservation advocates from Salem stood on a Bayfront sidewalk Saturday in Newport, protesting what they call the “slaughter” of dolphins and small whales along the coast of Japan. They were passing out leaflets directing passers-by to watch a multi-award winning documentary entitled “The Cove,” that graphically demonstrates how Japanese fishermen herd pods of dolphins and small whales into a confined cove area and then brutally stabs them to death.
This is how Wikipedia describes the documentary:
The Cove is a 2009 documentary film that analyzes and questions Japan’s dolphin hunting culture. It was awarded the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 2010. The film is a call to action to halt mass dolphin kills, change Japanese fishing practices, and to inform and educate the public about the risks, and increasing hazard of mercury poisoning from dolphin meat. The film is told from an ocean conservationist’s point of view. The film highlights the fact that the number of dolphins killed in the Taiji dolphin drive hunting is several times greater than the number of whales killed in the Antarctic, and claims that 23,000 dolphins and porpoises are killed in Japan every year by the country’s whaling industry. The migrating dolphins are herded into a cove where they are netted and killed by means of spears and knives over the side of small fishing boats. The film argues that dolphin hunting as practiced in Japan is unnecessary and cruel.
The documentary won the U.S. Audience Award at the 25th annual Sundance Film Festival in January 2009. It was selected out of the 879 submissions in the category.
The protesters Saturday on Newport’s Bayfront also contend that dolphins with high levels of mercury in their meat are used as food supplements and fillers and exported to the U.S. as components in baby food, dog food and other food stuffs. On the other hand, there are other reports that some U.S. exports also contain worrisome levels of mercury.
The New York Times reported in 2008 that “mercury does not seem to be a high priority for Japanese officials. The government has no restrictions on mercury in Tuna, one of the largest of fish known to have higher levels of mercury, which comes from air and run off pollution from coal fire power plants.” But due to the wide spread awareness of the problem through the documentary “The Cove,” demand for dolphin and whale meat has dropped considerably due to international stigma and a growing awareness of toxicity levels.”
The protesters in Newport also ask Americans to boycott Japanese products and anything to do with the the next Olympics coming up in Japan until the Japanese mercury issue is resolved, both at home and with their fish exports. Reports say there is a worldwide acknowledgement that mercury contamination in the world’s food chain is a major threat to fetuses developing in the human womb as well as with young children everywhere whose nervous systems and brains are susceptible to mercury poisoning found in fish.
The Natural Resources Defense Council recently gave this overview of the status of mercury contamination in coal plant emisions and what’s being done to reduce it…
Regulation of mercury pollution has finally begun to phase in among the largest emitters despite long delays and repeated attempts to weaken mercury regulations under the Clean Air Act. The Environmental Protection Agency finalized clean air safeguards to reduce toxic pollution, including mercury, from:
cement plants in 2010
power plants in 2011,
gold mining in 2011, and
industrial boilers in 2011, but these are now on hold.
New standards were proposed for the chlorine chemicals industry in 2011. Mercury emissions are slated to go down 80 percent by 2016 compared to 1990 levels, due to these US EPA regulations.
Outside the U.S., coal-fired power plants are the largest source of mercury air emissions worldwide. Coal is an economically attractive source of energy in countries where it is abundant and inexpensive. Currently, coal-fired power plants supply 75 percent of China’s energy; in the next eight years, China is expected to add more coal plants to meet domestic energy demand. However, China recently issued mercury emission limits on new and existing coal-fired power plants which will be implemented over the next few years.