On March 7th the movie "The Cove" won an Oscar for best documentary feature film. The film details the slaughter of thousands of dolphins each year as part of a drive fishery that takes place in a remote cove in Taiji, Japan.
Although the slaughter of dolphins in Taiji is very real, much of the information about the dolphin slaughter as portrayed in "The Cove" is far from fact and in many instances, promotes a blatant anti-zoological agenda.
To be eligible for an Oscar Award, a documentary feature must conform to Rule Twelve: Special Rules for the Documentary Awards as defined by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences:
"An eligible documentary film is defined as a theatrically released nonfiction motion picture dealing creatively with cultural, artistic, historical, social, scientific, economic or other subjects. It may be photographed in actual occurrence, or may employ partial reenactment, stock footage, stills, animation, stop-motion or other techniques, as long as the emphasis is on fact and not on fiction."
Early in the film, over 20 minutes of screen play is dedicated to establishing that the slaughter of dolphins in Japan was created by the demand for dolphins sold to marine life parks around the world. In "The Cove" star Ric O'barry states [about marine life parks] "...today it has become a multibillion dollar industry and all these captures helped create the largest slaughter of dolphins on the planet." Prior to and during his statement, images of popular U.S. marine life parks flash across the screen.
The fact is that dolphin hunting in Taiji, Japan predates marine life parks by over 350 years. The first records of dolphin drive hunts date back to 1606. The hunts initial purpose was one of sustenance (food) and later became one of pest control. In a 31-year-old article from National Geographic magazine, Japan fishermen interviewed stated "they lose more than 30 million dollars a year because the animals compete with them in catching cuttlefish and yellowtail."
Even O'barry contradicts the film's claim that dolphin parks are the driving force behind the killings. In a 32 second clip much later in the film, O'barry states [on the reason for the slaughter] "it's not about money, it's about pest control."
Yet "The Cove" goes to great lengths to convince viewers with false information that marine life parks are the economic driver creating the Japan dolphin slaughters.
The producers go so far as to illustrate the deception; using an animated map, they reveal dolphins originating from Taiji, Japan being sold to marine parks in the United States, Europe and throughout the globe.
In reality, the dolphins that are sold to parks are taken to China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan; not the United States or Europe.
According to the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums, an association that represents most major marine life parks in the western hemisphere, none of their 44 members "have or take animals from the [Taiji] drive." Current records show not one animal from Taiji can be found in marine life parks in the entire Western hemisphere.
Moreover, the percentage of animals that are sold to marine parks is less than 1% of the total annual "take" from dolphin hunts in Japan. Hardly the "economic underpinning," as described by O'barry on a Fox News interview about "The Cove."
Producers of the film have continued to perpetuate fiction contained in "The Cove" by promoting lies about marine life parks and their relationship to the killing cove in numerous interviews on such shows and channels as: The Oprah Winfrey Show, Fox News, CNN, Larry King Live, Animal Planet and other print and broadcast outlets around the globe. Throughout these promotional media appearances, producers of the film urge the public to stop buying tickets to marine life parks and that taking such action can help stop the slaughter of dolphins in Taiji.
Nothing could be further from the truth...nor could it be more damaging to the campaign to stop the slaughters in Taiji.
"The Cove" has had its moment in the spotlight and perhaps even levied a toll on marine life parks in the process, but neither result will stop the slaughter of dolphins in Taiji. Much like the evolution of awareness about marine life in the United States, only education and changing values toward dolphins will stop a 350 year old cultural hunt. When reviewing the facts, one could conclude that ending the dolphin slaughter in Taiji was never the primary intent of the Oscar-winning documentary "The Cove."
Dear Mr. President, Tom Sherak, Executives Branch:
We the undersigned ask that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences govern themselves according to the Definition provided by Rule Twelve: Special Rules for the Documentary Awards regarding the documentary feature film "The Cove."
To be eligible for an Oscar Award, a documentary feature must conform to Rule Twelve, specifically "It may be photographed in actual occurrence, or may employ partial reenactment, stock footage, stills, animation, stop-motion or other techniques, as long as the emphasis is on fact and not on fiction."
"The Cove' does not place an emphasis on fact. To the contrary, the film dedicates a significant portion of screen play establishing a scandalous link between marine life parks and the "killing cove" in Japan. "The Cove" tells its audience that "marine parks are the reason for the largest slaughter of dolphins on the planet."
There is undeniable evidence to illustrate that this elaborate portrayal and numerous false representations perpetrated by "The Cove" are simply not true.
Dolphin drive fisheries in Japan predate marine life parks by more than 350 years, dating back to 1606. Yet "The Cove" goes to great lengths to convince viewers with false information that marine life parks are the economic driver behind the Japan dolphin slaughters.