Sea Shepherd veteran crewmember Linda Trapp of the USA has been denied entry into Japan to document the brutal capture and slaughter of dolphins and small whales in Taiji on behalf of Sea Shepherd’s Operation Henkaku (Operation Metamorphosis) campaign. This is Japan’s second denial of Sea Shepherd volunteer this season as they attempt to hide the brutal slaughter of dolphins documented in Taiji by the Cove Guardians.
On Sunday, Aug. 30 (Japan time), Trapp was detained by Japanese Immigration upon arrival in Osaka, Japan. After being interrogated for nearly five hours, she was refused entry into the country and is still being held in the airport secured area and waiting for a flight back home, which is expected to depart in the next 24 hours. Japanese Immigration officials said the reason she was denied entry is that her activities are not consistent with those that fall under Japan’s “tourism clause.” Trapp, 56, is a two-year veteran Sea Shepherd crewmember and a respected retired homicide detective with the Washington County Sheriff Department in Oregon, USA.
This is not the first time a Sea Shepherd volunteer has been refused entry to Japan. On August 27, Sea Shepherd veteran Karen Hagen of Norway, a kindergarten teacher who was set to lead Operation Henkaku at the start of the season, was denied entry. Last season, several returning Cove Guardians were detained and sent home upon their arrival to the country. In December 2014, then Senior Cove Guardian Campaign Leader Melissa Sehgal was interrogated for nearly nine hours and detained for 24 hours before being escorted onto a flight out of Japan. No valid reason has been given for the denials, but Japan has claimed that the volunteers arriving with tourist visas are not tourists.
This pattern of entry denials is not unexpected, as Japan will go to great lengths to try and hide the bloodshed suffered by dolphins in the cove from the world. Furthermore, the denials are evidence that Japan knows Sea Shepherd has been effective in exposing these atrocities to the world.
“Linda Trapp, a retired homicide detective, is a respected member of her community. Like all of our Cove Guardian crew, she traveled to Japan to peacefully document and expose the brutal drive hunt in Taiji within the boundaries of Japanese law. Though carried out by only a handful of hunters, this massacre of ocean wildlife is a stain on the entire nation of Japan. As Sea Shepherd Founder, Captain Paul Watson, has said, our volunteers are ‘armed’ with the world’s most powerful weapon – the camera,” said Sea Shepherd Campaign Coordinator, David Hance. “The 2015-2016 hunt season marks Sea Shepherd’s sixth consecutive year in Taiji, and our promise to the dolphins has not wavered: we will not stop until the slaughter ends. We are not deterred. We already have other volunteers on the ground in Taiji and there are thousands of Sea Shepherds around the world, including inside the nation of Japan. They can’t keep all of us out. We will have a strong presence at the cove once more.”
More Sea Shepherd volunteers will soon be arriving in Japan to take up positions along the cove with those already on the ground, as Sea Shepherd has done each year since 2010 when Operation Infinite Patience was officially launched, creating a continuous presence of Cove Guardians throughout the hunt season. As the world becomes increasingly aware of the Taiji slaughter and its inextricable link to the global captive trade that fuels demand for wild-caught dolphins and whales, Sea Shepherd has reimagined its Dolphin Defense Campaign, now named Operation Henkaku, and will have a stronger focus this year on raising crucial awareness of the captive industry’s role in the drive hunt. Sea Shepherd believes the profitable trade of live cetaceans for captivity is the true economic fuel behind the hunt, and that the sale of dolphin meat for human consumption alone could not sustain the hunt. While one slaughtered dolphin is worth only approximately $600 for its meat, one trained captive dolphin can be sold by Taiji’s hunters for $250,000 USD. Sea Shepherd has long emphasized that the most effective way that individuals can oppose the slaughter is to stop patronizing aquariums, marine parks, and swim-with-dolphin facilities that hold whales and dolphins captive.
Each year from Sept. until March, entire family units, or pods, of dolphins and small whales at a time are driven into Taiji’s killing cove. Banger poles are struck against the side of the hunting boats to create a “wall of sound,” disorienting the sound-sensitive marine mammals and making it nearly impossible for them to escape the drive. Once netted within the shallow waters of the cove, there is no escape and the members of these frightened pods will face either imprisonment in captivity or brutal slaughter before the eyes of their families. Killers and trainers work side-by-side to select the “prettiest” dolphins and whales for captivity, those without visible scars. The others are mercilessly stabbed with a metal spike inserted into their backs, just behind the blowhole, to sever their spine. The dolphins slowly and painfully bleed to death or drown in the blood of their family members – others may die slowly as they are tethered and dragged to the butcherhouse, where the once living and free cetaceans are butchered and processed into meat. These inhumane killings are a blemish upon Japan, whose government refuses to sign on to many protection efforts and regulations for marine mammals, despite most of the world recognizing the need to protect these self-aware, beloved and imperiled animals.
Sea Shepherd’s Cove Guardians are the only group on the ground in Taiji every day throughout the six-month hunt season each year, ensuring that no cetacean is captured or slaughtered unseen by the world. “Because we serve as the eyes of the international community at the cove, it is important that we have volunteers on the ground throughout the season. Sea Shepherd is encouraging our supporters around the world to stand with us in Taiji. Those who would like to volunteer to be a Cove Guardian should contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to express their interest,” said Hance. “The dolphins need you now.”