Op-Ed: Tensions heat up in Taiji

Posted Nov 2, 2012 by Richard Smith
The story of the annual slaughter of dolphins and whales in the town of Taiji, Japan, brought to the world stage by the documentary The Cove, continues to circulate among animal rights activists and environmentalists as tensions reach a climax.
Taiji Dolphin slaughtering
Taiji Dolphin slaughtering
Campaign Whale
In recent years the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society have ran a campaign in which members, named as Cove Guardians, stay in Taiji throughout the killing season. This is done not only to promote a continuous presence in Taiji, but as well as to document the plight of the whales and dolphins, and report it to the world on a daily basis.
Due to the Sea Shepherd approach of continuous documentation, including both photographs and video of the people involved in the hunting, killing, butchering and buying of the whale and dolphin meat, tensions are at an all time high, and will remain so throughout the campaign.
On October 31, 2012. It seems tensions came to a pinnacle as Sea Shepherd tweeted that Melissa Sehgal, the onshore campaign leader in Taiji, was attacked by a disgruntled meat buyer after he discovered she was filming pilot whale meat in containers inside a facility he was doing business with. The tweet posted by Sea Shepherd, which was later re-tweeted by Melissa herself read as follows:
Taiji: pilot whale meat buyer attacks ‪@Melissa_Sehgal‬‬‬‬‬ as she livestreams bins of whale meat..again police deny seeing anything ‪#tweet4taiji‬‬‬‬‬
The man in question is obviously very upset with their presence and filming, and heads towards Melissa in an extremely aggressive manner while holding a pick, as well as a wooden board in order to block Melissa. After the initial confrontation the individual moved away to close the door of the facility, leaving the scene shortly afterwards. Additional frustration can be heard from Melissa as Taiji police were present at the scene, yet failed to not only protect Melissa from such an attack, but also denied seeing a pick even being carried. This sparked outcry among Sea Shepherd members and their twitter followers due to 1000’s of people not only witnessing the attack, but also witnessing the pick being held via their live stream channel; the video of the event currently can be seen starting at 490:00 here, but may be replaced upon new live stream events being recorded; however, the video is scheduled to be achieved at a later date.
As a proud member of Sea Shepherd myself, I can say without doubt that this will not only make the Cove Guardians stronger, but will unify them more than ever. Some groups in the same position may concede to public pressure, and the incessant disapproval of their beliefs after such an attack, as well as residing day after day in a hostile environment; but not the Cove Guardians. Why? Because like all members of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, such public pressure and discontent of their presence and existence will not make them yield, and the reason for that is summed up nicely by Captain Paul Watson, founder and president of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, in his speech at the Museum of Brisbane in 2010:
That pretty much puts us beyond criticism from people – because when people disagree with what we’re doing, I say: I don’t care. Our clients are the whales, sharks, seals, fish, whatever. We don’t give a damn what you think.