I first met the team from Australia for Dolphins at a peaceful protest event in Melbourne’s CBD. We gathered outside the Japanese embassy with fellow dolphin advocates to raise awareness of the Taiji dolphin hunts and hand out flyers and chat to passers-by about what was going on over there.
My awareness of the dolphin hunts happened earlier this year when I stumbled across a Facebook post on the “super pod” that was caught in Taiji, Japan which contained a rare albino dolphin named Angel. I had no idea such atrocities were taking place and was horrified and saddened at the cruelty of these hunts and the inhumane methods used by Taiji fishermen to drive , slaughter and capture such beautiful, innocent animals.
Since then, I’ve felt compelled to do something to help and whilst I would love to visit Taiji at some point in the future, I decided that my skills are best used in a more practical, immediate way to help the cause.
Australia for Dolphins’ approach to ending the hunts is primarily through legal action and peaceful advocacy. Although it is a relatively young organisation, AFD has already launched a ground-breaking lawsuit in relation to Angel, the albino dolphin calf who was captured in the hunts earlier this year.
AFD is a small charity run by a dedicated team of individuals and supported by a passionate group of volunteers, who give up their time to help bring projects to fruition. Over the last few weeks, I have become one of those volunteers helping out with communications projects in the AFD office and learning more about their mission. I have come to realise that every donation, no matter how small really makes a big difference.
All charities need members whose donations enable them to achieve their mission and AFD is no exception. Their band of supporters has grown steadily over the last 12 months and it is clear that without these important people, AFD simply would not have achieved so much.
In 2014, your donations helped Australia for Dolphins in many ways including:-
- In February, AFD was featured on 60 Minutes and brought national attention to the issue of dolphin hunting.
- In May the organisation launched a global campaign called “Action for Angel”, to help a rare albino dolphin calf captured in the drive hunts. AFD worked with other organisations such as The Dolphin Project and Save Japan Dolphins. Sarah, the CEO of AFD, travelled to Japan for the launch of the legal case. AFD received over 100,000 signatures to their petition calling on the Mayor of Taiji to release Angel from the Taiji Whale Museum to a shaded sea pen. The first legal hearing was held on the 4th July, and the case is continuing next year. Supporters helped raise $50,000 for the legal fund, turning an aspiration into a reality!
- AFD marked the 1st of September, Japan Dolphins Day, with a peaceful protest and advocacy stall at St Kilda Beach. The event coincided with many others held around the world to mark the first official day of the dolphin hunts in Taiji. AFD used the opportunity to talk to members of the local community, empowering them with information about actions they can take to end dolphin hunting.
- In September, AFD launched a school based advocacy program. Through the program, AFD representatives attend high school assemblies and visit class rooms, conveying information about their work and the issue of dolphin hunting.
- In November, AFD took part in a peaceful protest in the CBD with other like-minded organisations such as Empty the Tanks and Blue Cove Days, Everyday Forever. An event was also held in London on the same day, attracting a huge crowd calling on Taiji to end the dolphin drive hunts.
- In October AFD launched a campaign calling a substandard aquarium in the NSW coastal town of Coffs Harbour, called Dolphin Marine Magic (DMM), to account. AFD criticised the message sent by the ABC children’s television series Blue Zoo, which was filmed at the marine park and promoted the exploitation of dolphins for commercial purposes. The DMM campaign resulted in over 11,000 signatures through a change.org petition and gained national media attention. As a result, the Department of Primary Industries is investigating the marine park for animal welfare breaches.
Next year AFD is planning to launch a number of global campaigns, pending funding. Due to their legal nature, details of these campaigns can’t be disclosed just yet but let me assure you that they are pretty exciting!
As I’ve come to learn, one of the best ways you can help is by spreading the word about AFD’s work on social media, and encouraging friends, family, colleagues, and fellow passionate dolphin advocates to support AFD’s work and become a member.
It is clear that 2014 has been a really successful year for AFD, but in order to achieve their mission, they need our help.
Please join me in supporting their efforts to end dolphin hunting in 2015, and allow these beautiful, sentient animals the lifetime of freedom and peace they so deserve.
- By Ruth Barnard for Australia for Dolphins
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