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article imageThird annual Positive Change for Taiji going Gangnam Style

By Elizabeth Batt     Jan 4, 2013 in Environment
Miami - For the past three years, the annual Positive Change for Taiji event has raised awareness for the plight of dolphins outside of the Consulate General of Japan in Miami. This year will incorporate a parody of Psy's, Oppa Gangnam Style.
The event organized by the social media campaign 'Save the Blood Dolphins,' will be on January 11 outside of the Consulate General of Japan in Miami from 2-6 PM. Now in its third year, the demonstration combines activism with fun, to spread the word about the dolphin drives conducted in Taiji, Japan.
Each year, over 2,000 permits are issued to the Isana Fisheries Union in Taiji for the capture and slaughter of dolphins. The dolphin drives, clandestinely filmed in the Academy Award-winning documentary, The Cove, feature a brutal process that pushes pods of dolphins from the open sea into a natural inlet. Once secured, a select few are sold to marine parks for public entertainment and the remainder are slaughtered for their meat.
Currently midway through its dolphin drive season, Taiji has driven 824 dolphins from four different species into the cove; 391 were slaughtered, 286 were released, and 145 were captured to be sold to the public display industry. [Source: Ceta-Base.com]. Captured dolphins from Taiji are being shipped around the globe, and although Taiji defends the drives as 'tradition', the regular hunts only date back 43 years to 1969.
For Barbara Napoles, the administrator of Save the Blood Dolphins, the process must stop. In an interview last year, she told Digital Journal if Taiji stopped the dolphin hunts, "we will never be back to protest in front of a Japanese Embassy again."
But the hunts haven't stopped, Napoles said, so her group will return once again to the Japanese Consulate this year, and she hopes the event will be even larger. "We would love for it to be a worldwide event once again", Napoles explained.
For the almost 11,000 member-strong social media campaign, they enjoyed both success and loss in 2012. Involved in petitions to the Indonesian Embassy to stop traveling dolphin circuses within the country, they placed pressure on Garuda Airlines to not transport dolphins between Indonesia's islands. After Garuda reviewed their policies following the outcry, the transport of dolphins by the airline, ceased altogether.
The campaign also lost a valuable member of their team in October 2012 to cancer. Susan Mabe was a dedicated activist until the end. When she was too ill to attend a public hearing on a proposed beluga whale import, Mabe paid for five people to go in her stead and speak out on record against the import.
Mabe's untimely death has only made the group more determined than ever to fulfill the activist's wishes of seeking an end to the Taiji dolphin drives.
Last year's event theme involved a play on the Occupy Wall Street movement. 'Occupy The Cove', was initially formed by an international group of dolphin lovers on Facebook. With the symbolic occupation in play, some members of the Save the Blood Dolphins campaign danced dressed as Geisha's with inflatable dolphins.
This year, a parody of Psy's hit 'Oppa Gangnam Style' is being planned. Napoles wrote on the event page:
We will do Oppa Gangnam style with everyone there, with our dolphin props and protest signs. We will try to make this go viral ... for the Dolphins.
So if you're planning to attend the administrator said, then it's up to you to learn the dance. Napoles recommends watching this tutorial by DanceTutorialsLIVE.
Behind the fun though, is a serious message that the administrator hopes will be heard. While "we embrace the people of Japan" Napoles said, "their government is not taking care of its citizens."
Dolphin meat from cetaceans captured specifically in the Taiji drives, has tested high for mercury and other pollutants. It is so polluted reports the Japanese conservation group Elsa Nature Conservancy, that they describe the meat as "toxic waste." It is a health risk that the Japanese government consistently downplays, despite the pollutant levels testing far higher than the government's own recommended limits.
The third annual Positive Change for Taiji event will take place on the steps of the Consulate General of Japan at 80 SW 8th Street, Miami, Florida, Jan. 11 between 2-6 PM. Napoles is confident that people will put on their dancing shoes to raise awareness for the dolphins killed in Taiji's cove.
At some point during the afternoon, the activist is also planning "a candlelight vigil to honor the souls of the slaughtered dolphins and to bring notice to Japan for a Positive Change in Taiji." Now the consulate could find it difficult to ignore inflatable dolphins dancing to Psy, but will they choose to hear the message behind the parody?
"Only time will tell", Napoles said, but "you can do anything" she added, "if you just focus on your goal."
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