The people of Ghent, Belgium were treated to a striking visual display by Sea Shepherd’s Belgian chapter last weekend. The dedicated activists of the local chapter organized a flash mob to attract attention to Japan’s illegal, inhumane, and unsustainable slaughter of marine mammals.
On Saturday January 26th, the group took to the streets of Ghent with activists dressed as whales and dolphins, Sea Shepherd crewmembers, and Japanese fisherman carrying spears. As members of the public were out for a walk or doing their weekend shopping, they were confronted with the reality of Japan’s annual dolphin and illegal whale slaughter. As the whales and dolphins fled for their lives, Sea Shepherd crewmembers created a protective circle around them, and Japanese whalers and fisherman shouted “research” and attempted to spear the animals.
The goal of Sea Shepherd Belgium’s public demonstration was to bring awareness to the massive numbers of cetaceans slaughtered every year by Japan in the name of research and greed. Thousands of dolphins and small whales are killed every year in the infamous Cove of Taiji, Japan to fuel the lucrative captive dolphin industry, which can fetch up to $150,000 per dolphin. The remaining aesthetically imperfect animals — those unlucky enough to have blemishes, scars or nicked fins and are therefore viewed as undesirable by marine parks — are then cruelly slaughtered for human consumption, despite very high levels of mercury in their flesh. In the name of research and in the face of a global moratorium on whaling, the government of Japan attempts to kill nearly 1,000 whales every year in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, as well as pursues an annual whaling operation in the North Pacific, which targets Minke, Bryde, and endangered Sperm whales.
The mission of Sea Shepherd is to end the slaughter of wildlife in the world’s oceans. We have been actively opposing the dolphin slaughter in Taiji since 2003 and the illegal Japanese whaling program for the past decade with Sea Shepherd Australia carrying this mission into 2013.