Sea Shepherd Crewmembers Arrested in Japan for Releasing Dolphins

Monday, 17 Nov, 2003

Taiji, Japan and Friday Harbor, Washington State USA

Sea Shepherd crewmembers Allison Lance-Watson (American) and Alex Cornelissen (Dutch) were arrested by local police in Taiji, Japan for interfering with the Japanese Annual Dolphin Roundup. The arrest took place late in the afternoon, Tuesday, November 18th. Taiji is a small fishing village in the southern part of mainland Japan, near the city of Osaka. 

Lance-Watson and Cornelissen dove into the frigid bay where 15 adult, adolescent and baby dolphins had been herded and penned in by Japanese fishermen. Swimming for over an hour, they untied and lowered sections of the net creating an escape route for the dolphins. 

Both crewmembers were immediately arrested as they swam to shore and taken to neighboring Shingu police station for questioning.

Taiji was the center of international attention in early October as Sea Shepherd crewmembers filmed and photographed the slaughter of over 60 striped dolphins in the inner coves of the village.

These images of fishermen spearing and hooking defenseless dolphins raised worldwide outrage and condemnation on the Japanese government. An international protest was held on Nov 4 in 22 cities around the world where Japanese Embassies and Consulates were delivered petitions and letters of opposition to the continued traditional hunt that benefits a handful of fishermen. 

Wild dolphin slaughter occurs in several areas of Japan - it's estimated that 1-2 thousand dolphins are killed each year via round-ups, and additional 18,000 killed by other means.

Similar slaughters are frequent and increasing in other coastal fishing villages such as Futo. Although dolphin meat is highly toxic with industrial pollution, it can be passed as prized whale meat and sold on the open market. Other products include pet food and fertilizer. The Japanese government promotes a whaling program that kills over 1000 Minke whales each year, despite the 1986 international moratorium on whaling.

Sea Shepherd was instrumental in stopping dolphin slaughter on Iki Island, Japan, in the early 1980's when the local fishermen signed an agreement with Captain Paul Watson to permanently end the practice. Sea Shepherd is a non-profit, non governmental marine wildlife conservation organization which has protected the lives of hundreds of thousands marine animals around the world since founded in 1977 by Captain Paul Watson.

For more information, please contact Captain Paul Watson, founder and president of Sea Shepherd. Tel: USA 310-701-3096 (cell) or 360-370-5650 (office). Fax: USA 360-370-5651. Email: For more information about Sea Shepherd, please visit the website:

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