COULD YOU TALK ABOUT THE DRIVE FISHERY IN JAPAN?
I wasn't aware of this when I first started opposing captivity, when I first
started on this job. It turns out that almost every false killer
whale--there's about 20 or 30, in captivity in the United States and in North
America. And every single one of those animals it turns out came from Japan
and they came from the Japanese drive fisheries.
A drive fishery is where a large number of vessels go out, find a pod of
whales or dolphins and circle them and with just sort of like herding them as
if the boats were horses. They push them in towards shore, they drive them
ahead of them, the animals continue to move towards shore until they beach.
They're frightened, they're terrified, they're running and they go right up
onto shore and beach themselves and then depending on what the purpose of this
drive fishery is, whether it's to remove animals for public display or in fact
to kill them, and that's more, more commonly the purpose.
Then the people get off the boats and do whatever they're going to do, if
they're going to kill them. It's a horrible blood bath, it's an absolute
slaughter, it's extremely difficult to kill a whale. And they have, especially
in Japan, this is a cultural thing, to them. Whales and dolphins are fish, the
word means fish, it's not a mammal at all to them, and it's not that they
don't realize it's in a biological sense that they're mammals but to them
they're just fish in the ocean. And they think of it that way, culturally.
And so to kill them and to do all, it's we have commercial fisheries in the
United States and they don't think about it in terms of animal welfare, we
probably should but we don't. And so to add to that of course, they aren't
fish, they are mammals. They do have large brains. They do experience
extremely strong emotions and so it's just a terrible scene. I can't stand
watching that footage any more. It's so horrible to watch them trying to kill
these animals 'cause they're so difficult to kill.
But they will remove some animals and this started, probably in the 70's and
80's, to sell them to public display facilities. Whether they're in Asia or
sometimes in the United States, as I said. Every false killer whale came from
Japan, they came from these drive fisheries. It's the only way to capture them
WHAT WAS THE REACTION WHEN THESE DRIVE FISHERIES IN JAPAN WERE EXPOSED?
I wasn't until 1993 when basically the beans were spilled. There was some
footage from Hardy Jones and there was basically a revelation to the National
Fishery Services - which is our U.S. government body that regulates captures
and public display at that time - hat these animals were being captured in a
manner that was different from what the permit allowed.
It wasn't so much how it was a drive fishery. It was simply that it was
different in what the permit allowed. And in fact it could be argued it wasn't
humane and it was required that the capturement be humane. And there was a
sort of minimal definition of what they meant by that and driving them into
shore and beaching them and then slaughtering some of them and wasn't humane
under that definition, so because it was suddenly exposed that this is how
false killer whales were captured, 20, 25 animals that were here in the United
States were captured that way.
The National Fisheries Service who frankly was turning a blind eye. They're not
stupid and they're not blind and they did know in my opinion, what was going
on. But they didn't aggressively investigate it. But when it was shoved into
their face this way, the footage and all, they couldn't deny it any more, they
basically shut down that avenue of acquiring animals from Japan. So now Japan
in general is not considered a legal source of whales and dolphins for
captivity in the United States because there's always the possibility that a
drive fishery was used.
WHAT DO YOU SAY TO PEOPLE IN THE INDUSTRY WHO ARGUE WE'RE SAVING ANIMALS FROM
THE DRIVE FISHERY. THEY WOULD BE SLAUGHTERED IF WE DIDN'T....?
When representatives from the public display industry claim that they're
rescuing animals from the drive fishery I find that so unbelievably
disingenuous of them, so self serving.
I don't think anybody who's properly wise to the ways of the world, I'm not
talking about cynical really-- but you have to be savvy, to trade in wildlife,
and if you're gonna be so deliberately naive as to say, 'oh we're gonna pay
$20,000 for each animal, $5,000 for each, I don't know, thousands of dollars
for each animal to rescue them' - Make the connection! That's an incentive
to these guys to go out and make more animals to rescue. If you put cash value
on an animal, that immediately provides an incentive for some human being out
there to get more of them, however they're going to get them.
There's a similar situation where the native hunt for walrus, up in Alaska,
provides orphans for public display facilities so they can have walrus in their
facilities and, I understand, they pay for these orphans. So although it is
considered bad management, bad conservation, to kill mothers with pups there
must be an incentive for these guys to kill lactating females, the ones with
the pups, so they can create an orphan that they can sell. Even though they
know it's bad management, that they should be trying to kill males or juveniles
As soon as you put cash value, a bounty, on the head of an animal, you've got
some human being out there who's going to exploit it. And anybody who turns a
blind eye to that, or pretends that that's not really the point, or the
motive--they're either living under a rock, or they're being deliberately