Reflecting on a decade of Action for Dolphins

Feb 22, 2022 by afdadmin
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Ten years ago I travelled to a small coastal town in Japan called Taiji. While volunteering there I witnessed dolphins and whales being killed in the cruellest ways imaginable.

I’ll never forget hearing the pained shrieks of pilot whales resonating around Taiji’s cove as a pod of 100 was brutally speared to death, or the sight of a tiny bottlenose dolphin calf frantically attempting to jump over a net to its mother held captive on the other side.

I knew then that I had to bring an end to these atrocities. I founded Australia for Dolphins, now known as Action for Dolphins, and we have been fighting to protect marine life ever since.

Over the years, AFD has grown to a small but dedicated team fighting to protect dolphins in Australia and internationally.

This is me in Taiji, where it all started. We have been fighting to protect these beautiful animals ever since.

What makes AFD different is our use of legal systems to protect dolphins and other marine life. 

Thanks to our wonderful community of Dolphin Defenders, we have achieved significant wins in Taiji. Some of the highlights have included: 

  • bringing legal action against the world’s peak zoo and aquarium body which shut down 50% of demand from the Taiji dolphin hunts (62 aquariums in total)  
  • winning in court against the world’s largest broker of wild-caught dolphins in Japan, dealing a significant blow to the Taiji dolphin hunts
  • exposing the Taiji dolphin hunts to millions of Japanese people for the first time on massive billboards in Tokyo and Osaka
  • launching unprecedented legal action in Japanese court in a bid to prove the Taiji dolphin hunts violate Japan’s own animal welfare laws 

And most recently, submitting a criminal complaint against the selling of dolphin and whale meat due to unlawfully high levels of mercury. This was accepted by police who have now launched an investigation. 

None of this would be possible without a dedicated community supporting our work to protect dolphins worldwide. AFD Dolphin Defenders are the backbone of these successful legal actions and advocacy campaigns, and are the reason the Taiji dolphin hunters are now under investigation by police. 

Over the years, AFD’s focus has expanded to include issues affecting dolphins in Australia: captivity, lethal nets, wild hand-feeding, and plastic pollution. 

We’ve given evidence at a Parliamentary Inquiry that led to a legislative ban on breeding dolphins in NSW, launched a “people power” campaign stopping 90 planes from transporting live dolphins in inhumane conditions, saw to the removal of shark nets in Ballina, NSW, brought legal action against a marine park and started a feasibility study to build a sanctuary to retire captive dolphins.

Our team has also cleaned up hundreds of kilograms of rubbish from Melbourne’s beaches, launched a widespread awareness campaign on Minjerribah (North Stradbroke) Island resulting in no new reports of illegal hand-feeding, and put up multiple billboards and advertisements raising awareness about lethal shark nets. 

All this, and more, would not be possible without the support of passionate Dolphin Defenders. 

Thank you for signing petitions, writing to decision makers, giving donations, and adding your voice to the growing number of people fighting cruelty against dolphins and other marine life.

It is thanks to you I have hope for what we can achieve in the next ten years at AFD.

With you for the dolphins,

Sarah