February 27, 2012-
News of the January 16, 2012 transport of 5 Taiji dolphins on a Hong Kong Airlines charter has unleashed a firestorm of activity within the advocacy community. According to a report published in the China Daily News, the airline earned a handsome HK$875,000 for a seven hour charter flight transporting the dolphins in coffin-like structures from Japan to Vietnam. An internal company memo applauded the effort and alluded to future shipments as a means to increase revenues.
Shortly after the release of the article, on February 23 the social media campaign Save Misty the Dolphin launched an online petition urging Hong Kong Airlines to Stop Profiting from the Misery of the Taiji Dolphins. The petition organizers stated, “Dolphins are neither cargo, nor commerce, nor entertainment.” Two days later Gary Stokes of Sea Shepherd Hong Kong and a veteran of the organization’s highly publicized Operation No Compromise, delivered the petition (which then had 2400 signatures), a letter and a copy of the Academy Award winning documentary The Cove to the airline headquarters. Stokes was accompanied by a crew of Sea Shepherd volunteers.
Following the meeting, Stokes issued this statement:
Interesting morning, went around to Hong Kong Airlines office to present them with an official letter from SSCS HK regarding the transportation of live dolphins from the Cove to Vietnam. Friendly at first, then after retiring to probably google Sea Shepherd, they wanted us out. We were peaceful and polite, the staff obviously have no idea about the dolphins. Anyway a full report to come tomorrow with pictures, oh yes the press were there. We were advised by one of their management that this was not the conventional way of going about this, to which I replied “we’re not used to doing things the conventional way, but we seem to get results!”
In the wake of the meeting, the story has been picked-up by numerous media outlets including The China Post, South China Morning Post, Japan Today, The Daily Telegraph, AFP, CNN and ABC.
Within hours Hong Kong Airlines responded with this letter:
Dear Mr. Stokes,
As a member of the transport industry, Hong Kong Airlines is totally unaware of the complexities behind its shipment of five dolphins on 16 January 2012. We are indeed very grateful for your input which has helped to sharpen an awareness of the dark side of the dolphin story. We have availed ourselves this opportunity to share with you some basic information regarding this shipment.
On 16 January 2012, Hong Kong Airlines has undertaken a consignment of five dolphins from Japan to Vietnam. This transportation fully complies with government rules and International Air Transport Association live animal regulations, and it met all requirements of container, preparation before dispatch and animal care procedures.
Import and export permits pertinent to Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora have been issued by the Trade & Economic Bureau of Co-operation, Ministry of Economy. Trade & Industry in Japan and Forest Protection Department, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Vietnam.
Professional experts from Vietnam and Japan were sent there for evaluation before the delivery. The advised that transport by Air is the best solution for the transfer of live dolphins. Sea animal experts and veterinary surgeons were onboard to supervise and monitor the transportation process, and proper care has been exercised during the entire voyage by the experts. No dolphin is suffered injuries during this shipment.
Hong Kong Airlines is a responsible member of the transport industry and cares for the future and the environment. If cessation of flights of this nature helps in the protection of cruelty to wild life, Hong Kong Airlines will have no second thoughts. Hong Kong Airlines will make a donation to a charitable organization of its choice as a gesture of appreciation of its enlightenment.
Hong Kong Airlines
Just after midnight (EST) on February 27, the petition reached 5,000 signatures. About that time, news came from volunteers in Taiji that a very large pod of dolphins had died a gruesome and bloody death in The Cove. Said Tim Burns, Cove Monitor with Save Japan Dolphins, “98 Pantropical Spotted Dolphins died in Taiji today. Was a very sad day. Today unfortunately the hunters allowed some to suffer greatly, partially paralyzed swimming out from under the tarps for about 10 min. Many juveniles were in this pod. Very sorry to report such a bad day in Taiji.” Dramatic video footage details the slaughter.
According to reports out of Taiji, the 2011-2012 dolphin hunt will soon come to an end. As of February 8, 2012 the online marine mammal inventory Ceta-Base indicates 710 dolphins driven into the Cove, 615 killed, 44 released and 46 captured since September 2011. The number killed just increased by 98.
Not convinced that Hong Kong Airlines has fully ceased its operation, Save Misty the Dolphin continues its petition and has also launched a telephone campaign urging concerned citizens to contact the airlines customer relations office with this message:
Dolphins are neither cargo nor commerce nor entertainment – STOP PROFITING FROM THE MISERY OF THE TAIJI DOLPHINS or prepare to be BOYCOTTED!
To sign the petition click here
To contact Hong Kong Airlines directly click here