Former Dolphin Hunter Successfully Petitions UNESCO

Having spent years attempting to get the dolphin drive hunts in Futo, Japan officially disbanded, Izumi Ishii has successfully petitioned the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to suspend Izu peninsula from earning status as a Global Geopark.

Futo-Shizuoka is located in Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park and is a member of the Japanese Geoparks Network. Geoparks are areas of national significance that promote earth heritage through education and sustainable tourism.

Recently, as an appointed Geopark, the Izu peninsula applied to become a member of the Global Network Of National Geoparks or GGN. Founded in 1998 under the wing of UNESCO’s Ecological and Earth Sciences Division, the GGN — like national parks, promote the conservation of geological heritage, and encourage sustainable tourism.

According to UNESCO as a member of GGN, members must:

Ensure adequate protection measures, in consultation with relevant statutory bodies, to guarantee effective conservation … [and] represent quality in everything they do including conservation, tourism, education, interpretation, development.

Ironically, the Ito city mayor, who directly oversees Futo’s dolphin hunting, is the chairman of the Izu peninsula Global Geopark Campaign Council and is eager to get the title. It was something that Ishii-san was uncomfortable with and so last year, he organized a petition with Maho Cwejman and others, asking UNESCO for oversight. Futo needed to ban its dolphin hunting for good.

Nathalie Pixie attempted to deliver the petition to the UNESCO office in Paris but despite calling them beforehand, UNESCO did not admit her onto the premises. With 19,000 signatures, Pixie was not to be thwarted and had it served by mail instead. On Oct. 5, UNESCO informed the Ito-city mayor that several areas must be improved before a GGN membership could be approved. At the top of the list was Futo’s Dolphin hunt. The Mayor has until Nov. 30, to issue a response to UNESCO.

Nathalie Pixie delivers Ishii san's petition to the UNESCO office in Paris.

Nathalie Pixie delivers Ishii san’s petition to the UNESCO office in Paris/Bright Sea

Ishii-san told Dolphin Project:

Izu peninsula Global Geopark is suspended. Due to our petition! (Izu Paninsula Geopark was expecting to have the Global Geopark title). One of the key reasons why UNESCO didn’t approve it was the dolphin hunt.

The last dolphin hunt in Futo took place in 2005, and the town has survived without practicing it since 2006, but Ito’s Fishery Union is always keen to continue the hunting and continues to declare Futo’s dolphin hunt every year and Ito’s Fishery Union continues to receive the hunting quota from Fisheries Agency.

Izu peninsula is included in Japan’s national park. I am against the dolphin hunt taking place within a national park. I believe, the world does not support that the waters turn red by dolphin hunt in Futo.

I believe that the reason why Futo’s dolphin hunt was not happened is … because of my friend Ric san ‘s support. He brought many customers to my whale & dolphin watching. I am happy that Ric has promised me continued support, and of course, dolphins need Ric san too! Thank you for your continued support!

The chairman of the Izu peninsula Global Geopark Campaign Council is Ito-city mayor. Izu contains many other places not only Ito-city, and each place have their own representatives. The Ito-city mayor was the chairman of them all. Now the hunting issue is at his own feet, he no longer can ignore the problem. I hope he will give a good answer.

Ric O’Barry added:

This is an important story because it could mean the end of the dolphin slaughter. If the Mayor of Ito City wants to be part of a World Heritage site, he will have to state publicly that Futo will not slaughter dolphins in the future. This also adds pressure on the mayor of Taiji, as their dirty work is also taking place in a national park. Both Izumi and the Mayor have been on Japanese TV talking about this.

Ito-City mayor Hiromi Tsukuda told the Japanese media (translated):

More and more, the world is questioning about the hunting. The hunting is the tradition but we need to think of the trend (suitable) of the times.

Ito Fishery Union refused to comment but did offer the following sentiment (translated):

If there is consultation we will be accepting a meeting with city mayor and Izu peninsula Global Geopark Campaign Council.

Ishii-san said he will continue with the petition until, “we win the complete Blue Global Geopark! Our words are “Blue Oceans” and “Blue Cove”. He also extended thanks to his advisers Maho Cwejman, Nathalie Pixie and his volunteers and supporters: Petra Heckmann; Beate Dietrich; Uli Sharbinie; Bodhi Kohler; R.W.Cory; Carly Sheree, Andry Lavigne; Jutta Brückner and John Miller.

“This whole thing was not possible without Ric-san, Lincoln-san, Terran-san, Tim-san and Dolphin Project team’s support,” he added.  “Thank you to all the supporters who signed the petition!”

FullSizeRenderIshii-san was born into a family of dolphin hunters in Futo, Japan. In 2002, he traveled to the International Whaling Commission’s (IWC) annual meeting in Shimonoseki, Japan where he announced his intention to cease hunting and urged his fellow dolphin hunters to do the same.

In that same year, he launched the first dolphin and whale watching trip out of Futo harbor. Today, it is named Bright Sea. You can follow news of his petition here and sign his petition on Care2.

Featured Image: Terran Baylor.

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About Elizabeth Batt

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Elizabeth is a freelance writer, a former large animal nurse and a former certified NREMT. She is passionate about the ocean and its inhabitants and her work focuses on cetacean-related issues, including captive whales and dolphins. She graduated in psychology and sociology and lives with her family in beautiful northwestern Montana.

Author: Elizabeth Batt


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