There are places in our world that hold tradition and culture in high regard. Places that put heritage before moral standards and compassion. Certain people and places consider the act of shark finning just a step in the process to bring them their traditional dish of shark fin soup. The idea of slicing the fins off a still living shark before dumping its bloody body back into ocean to sink and drown does not disturb them or change their mind about the soup order being placed. Every year in Japan thousands of dolphins are driven into a cove where they are trapped behind nets and slaughtered. The ones that are “saved” are going to witness the deaths of their entire families and then be captured, sold, and live out their lives in captivity. These acts are all justified by claiming it is tradition or part of their culture. So can we change these traditions and the people who support them? Over the weekend I purchased a t-shirt to support an amazing man named Izumi Ishii. Izumi was raised in Futo, Japan and is a third generation dolphin hunter. He grew up watching his grandfather and father hunt and kill dolphins. It was only natural for him to take up this way of life and follow in their footsteps. Then came the day that Izumi really heard the cries of the dolphins he was killing. He looked into their eyes and in that moment his life changed. In 2002, Izumi started leading wild dolphin eco tours in Japan. And that is how he has made his living ever since.
“The value I now see in dolphins is not the value of their meat, but in the wonder they incite in us.”
Izumi Ishii turned his back on the life he knew, the life he was taught. He went against tradition, culture and heritage. If he can make this change, why can’t others? The world has shown tremendous support to him and his new way of life. The world wants to see dolphins swimming wild in the ocean. Not dead and dying in pools of blood. How can we make other dolphin hunters see an alternative life does exist? A life that does not involve cries of dolphins as they take their last breaths, a sea cove colored red, and secrets that even the people of Japan don’t know about. In the last week, several pods of Risso’s dolphins have been brutally and traumatically killed in the cove in Taiji, Japan. Their voices silenced by men who try to hide what they are doing. It is not a tradition if you are hiding it from the people you claim it’s a tradition for. I also think that cultures change as the world changes. We learn the importance of sharks in our ocean ecosystem and then killing 73 million sharks a year for soup seems wrong and completely unnecessary. The world that once needed to keep dolphins in concrete tanks is finally seen as outdated and cruel. As the world continues to support and love changed men like Izumi we can only hope that others follow in his footsteps. Izumi Ishii is the future and the men who chase, trap and murder dolphins will simply be a dark spot on the past.
“Culture is created by the people – people living in that era”.
You can support Izumi Ishii by visiting http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Please-Support-Izumi-Ishii-sans-Wild-Dolphin-Eco-Tourism-in-Japan/234871483203324
You can purchase merchandise to support Izumi by visiting http://www.freewebstore.org/we-are-free/index.aspx?pageid=930741