Written by PETA
A southern California seafood vendor accused of illegally importing whale meat and selling it to sushi restaurants may be saying "Sayonara!" to life on the outside. Ginichi Y. Ohira pleaded guilty to selling meat from whales killed near Japan and faces up to one year in prison, one year of supervised release, and a fine of $100,000. Considering that he has allegedly been supporting the Japanese slaughter of whales for 10 years, we wouldn't mind seeing the court throw the book at Ohira when he is sentenced in September.
Ohira sold sei whale meat, illegal in the U.S. under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, to Los Angeles sushi restaurant The Hump, where the Oscar-winning filmmakers of the The Cove discovered it. They alerted the feds and got The Hump charged, and it subsequently shut down. Now it's Ohira's turn to face the music.
While it is illegal to eat whales in the States, these majestic animals—as well as dolphins, sea turtles, and other marine life—are still snared as "bycatch" in fishing nets. You can help protect dolphins, whales, and other sea animals by opting for veggie sushi rolls, faux fish, and other ocean-friendly vegan options.
Written by Michelle Sherrow
Thanks to the efforts of compassionate people like Keely and Pierce Brosnan—and the many PETA Files readers who voiced their concerns (We love you guys!)—an attempt to end the moratorium on commercial whaling was defeated during the meeting of the International Whaling Commission in Morocco. This move is all the more impressive in the wake of news reports detailing the desperate attempts of Japanese representatives to manipulate the outcome, from applying backroom pressure to paying poor countries to vote on their side!
While this is good news, it's not yet time to pop those champagne corks. Whales still face huge threats, from spewing oil (and oil development) to miserable lives in captivity to—as any fan of Whale Wars knows—killer nations that subvert (or just ignore) the international ban on whaling. So while we have momentum on our side, let's keep the efforts going until all whales are free to live their natural lives! Thank you for your role in all this.
Written by Jeff Mackey
Could the Brosnans be any kinder? First, Pierce helped homeless animals by designing a spay-and-neuter license plate, and now Pierce and his wife, Keely, are leading a truly vigorous international effort to make sure that the worldwide ban on whaling—which is now in jeopardy—remains intact. The ban has been in effect since 1986, but the International Whaling Commission (IWC) is considering lifting it if the three countries (Japan, Iceland, and Norway) that are currently ignoring the ban will reduce the number of whales they kill each year. In short, the IWC is proposing to reward these countries for their continued whaling during the international moratorium.
In the weeks leading up to the IWC's vote on this issue, more than 144 scientists and experts have signed a petition urging the IWC to keep the ban on whaling. Pierce has also made this heartfelt plea to the Obama administration not to support a proposed plan that would allow Japan, Iceland, and Norway to continue killing whales while the moratorium is in place: Please, listen and act: The time is now!
Join Pierce, Keely, and other compassionate people who are working to save whales by urging President Obama to take a strong stand against the slaughter of these animals. Call and fax, and get everyone you know to do the same—this minute. If we can't save the whales, what hope is there for other animals?
Written by Lindsay Pollard-Post
After much anticipation, the new music video for Modest Mouse's "King Rat" was released this week—and it was worth the wait. The video, which was directed by Heath Ledger, is great not only for its artistry (I am always in favor of a touch of the Gilliam) but also for its message. It highlights cruel (and illegal) whale poaching by depicting a boatload of whales who capture and slaughter a pod of humans.
Our friends at ecorazzi have the whole story, but this wasn't Heath's only foray into whale protection. Heath was also a member of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society advisory board and, according to ecorazzi, had expressed "extreme interest" in playing the role of Captain Paul Watson in a film about the captain's life and work.
Because so many people have already been touched by this video, we're presenting Heath—care of The Masses, who finished the project he directed—as well as Isaac Brock and the rest of Modest Mouse with Compassionate Artist Awards for opening so many eyes to the violent reality of whaling.
Written by Amanda Schinke
Doggone it, I knew there was a reason why I love Kyra Sedgwick. Oh, sure, she's an outspoken dog rescuer and an amazing actor, and she's married to hunky Sexiest Vegetarian Alive contender Kevin Bacon. But what really sent her into the hero stratosphere was this letter she sent to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg today asking him to improve the living conditions for the elephants who are being forced to perform by Ringling in Coney Island this summer and requesting that he forbid Ringling from ever returning to Coney Island.
She's not asking for much, just little creature comforts like not being chained up for hours on end and not being whipped in the face or jabbed by bullhooks. Doesn't seem like a lot to ask, does it? Read Kyra's letter for yourself and see if you agree.
Written by Alisa Mullins
Genius! In what looks like an amphibian homage to our "baby" coat, Lady Gaga has chosen a "ribbeting " way to tell the world that skins aren't in.
Check out what she said about the newest addition to her wacky wardrobe:
"The Kermit the Frog outfit is by an incredible designer by the name of Jean[-Charles] de Castelbajac, and he does a lot of museum art fashion pieces. … I really loved this one in particular because I thought it was commentary on not wearing fur, 'cause I hate fur and I don't wear fur. We were all laughing in the house about how it looks like a pile of dead Kermits."
Written by Shawna Flavell
PETA Files readers were outraged by yesterday's story about an Akron, Ohio, Petland employee who allegedly drowned two rabbits in the store's back room. Our readers are not alone, and thanks to the overwhelming public outcry, the store where Elizabeth Carlisle was photographed holding two sopping-wet, dead rabbits by the scruff of the neck has been permanently closed.
In other good news, Elizabeth Carlisle has been charged with cruelty to animals and is scheduled to appear in court later this month. We have written to the authorities and are urging them to throw the book at her—hard.
While it's great that this particular hellhole has been shut down, Petland still has a lot of cleaning up to do. PETA receives many complaints alleging abuse and neglect of animals in Petland's stores. Here are just a few examples:
One person claiming to be a former Petland employee writes, "[I] used to work at a Petland … and [I] can totally relate to this picture … The stores … have puppies dying all the time, due to not having water and food. [T]he kennel techs are untrained and underpaid and they get back at the company by not taking care of the animals! … [A]ll Petlands should be shut down or the animals should all be taken away. [A]ll they care about is money, money, money!"
Another writes, "I used to work for Petland … I ended up being let go, because I refused to … [p]ut dying hamsters, parakeets, … kittens, [and] small puppies in plastic bags and put them in the freezer, and let [animals] breed rampantly. I also got in trouble for … wasting company money by cleaning animal cages that were out of customer sight …"
And yet another writes, "I opened the freezer once and there were frozen snakes in there. I asked what they were … They said they weren't paying the vet to treat [the animals], so they put them to sleep in there. Rats and mice, hamsters and gerbils, and other small critters were always committing cannibalism, because of lack of food, and not having enough space."
Petland is unable to monitor all its employees all the time, which means that other animals are bound to suffer as a result. We would like Petland to stop selling animals in all its stores, but if the company isn't willing to make that leap immediately, what it can do right now is stop selling rabbits in order to ensure that these small, vulnerable animals are spared death at the hands of people like Carlisle.
Lookin' fierce with her new do, Freeda Fish—er, I mean Sammy the Sea Kitten—has hit the road and is handing out plush sea kitten toys across the country to children visiting aquariums. She wants the kiddies (and their parents) to know that sea kittens, like land kittens and puppies, are sensitive, intelligent animals who feel pain and deserve respect—and who definitely shouldn't be cruelly confined to aquariums, violently killed for food, or painfully hooked for "sport."
So far, kids have been eager to embrace Freeda's new persona, but who do you prefer—Freeda Fish or Sammy the Sea Kitten?
Written by Liz Graffeo
Have you been tuning in for the newest season of Whale Wars? If not, you're missing out. This season has been a wild ride both on and off the Steve Irwin: The boat was almost destroyed by an iceberg, Paul Watson ordered the crew to stand down while whalers within arm's reach searched for a crewmember who had fallen overboard, and there was an anthrax scare in the most recent episode.
Oh, and we can't forget about the addition of PETA's Sexiest Vegetarian Naval Woman to this year's crew. For all of you who are just as thrilled by the addition of Jane Taylor to the Steve Irwin crew as I am, I'll let you in on a little secret: She may be back in the future. Want to know more? Just read our interview with her below:
How did your training in the Navy prepare you for your position with Sea Shepherd? I spent my six and a half years in the Navy as a surface warfare officer, where I was assigned to a marine transport ship in San Diego, California, and a frigate out of Seattle, Washington. On both of those vessels, I was required to be a small-boat officer, which made me very familiar with Sea Shepherd's Delta and Gemini launching, recovery, and general small-boat operations. I've spent countless hours in a Navy small boat. I was also required to qualify as an officer of the watch, so I had experience with ship maneuvering (but not through ice!), navigation, rules of the road, helicopter operations, radars, radio communication, and everything else that comes along with being on the bridge of a 300- to 500-foot ship. As a bonus, I was also a helicopter control officer on the frigate, ensuring the safety of a helicopter when launching and recovering.
The difference: Sea Shepherd plays music on the bridge, we get to ride the bow in major storms, our ship's log has drawings and colorful stamps (after three mistakes in the Navy, you have to rewrite the log) ... and the Steve Irwin is vegan!
What was the most rewarding part of your post with Sea Shepherd?I would say being able to utilize my skills in an appropriate arena—the ocean—and feeling useful. The ultimate for an animal activist is to go on campaign and be in the action and feel the wind and sea spray and life as opposed to being in an office, which, of course, is important as well.
It was wonderful. The day we found the fleet, a minke whale crossed in between us and the factory ship, Nisshin Maru, and we knew we were his or her protector. The whale could safely carry on and live another peaceful day, and to do that for at least one whale was a mission accomplished. But we knew we couldn't stop there ... whaling needs to end.
What was one of the most difficult things about fighting against whalers? When we were out in the Southern Ocean, it was four against one. The harpoon ships are so fast and maneuverable (they could do a 180 in their own wake!) and easily did circles around us. It made it difficult to ever feel as though we had the upper hand, and we often felt a bit like a tin can. It would be amazing if we were no longer outnumbered.
Here are some stats:
60 meters/196 feet
885 gross register tonnage
Harpoon ships (Yushin Maru)
1025 gross register tonnage
Factory Ship (Nisshin Maru)
8000 gross register tonnage
What animal rights issues are you most passionate about?It was very difficult to decide where to focus my efforts, but I thought Sea Shepherd was the perfect place since I have skills for ship-handling, guts for action, and a heart for humanity.
Immediately, I would like to work on getting Sea Shepherd another ship to use down in Antarctica. But in addition to focusing on marine life, I will also be concentrating my efforts on ending vivisection—another arena of extreme cruelty to animals.
Whale Wars can be a pretty intense show. Have you ever had a moment where you thought you couldn't keep going? What made you persevere?There was never a moment when I thought I couldn't keep going. All the action was extremely intense with lots of adrenaline going through everyone's blood. The action became very addicting, and when we had to leave the whaling fleet, it was very, very disappointing. I was not ready to leave. We definitely need more ships out there.
Now for the question on everyone's mind: How has being named PETA's Sexiest Naval Woman positively affected your life?It's a very fun title to have, and who wouldn't be honored to have the title of PETA's Sexiest Naval Woman? I thought there might only be two vegetarians out there to compete with, but what a wonderful surprise to hear that there were so many! I'm looking forward to wearing my winning T-shirt and sparking some interesting conversations with animal lovers, as well as educating those who want to debate the issues.
Can we look forward to a third season of the show? Oh, yes. There is a third season. Sea Shepherd has just merged with Earthrace, a round-the-world, record-breaking trimaran, so I suspect that the tactics next year are going to be completely different. Anything could happen when you bring a boat that looks like a spaceship down to the Southern Ocean!
Will you be on deck again?Oh, I got so addicted to Sea Shepherd's campaigns that I want to go on all of them! Before the merge, I met Earthrace in New Zealand and loved the boat, so I will be trying out to crew on it. With Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's new popularity, there are so many new, interesting, skilled, and keen volunteers, so I'm not sure if I will be selected, but my fingers are crossed!
If you're as big a fan of Whale Wars as I am, you probably already have a pretty good idea of the evil that is whaling. For those of you who can't afford cable, suffice it to say that the Japanese continue to kill hundreds of whales every year under the guise of "research"—except that they also happen to have a thriving business in the sale of whale flesh and other whale products. Hmmm … sounds pretty fishy (or should I say "sea-kitteny"?) to me.
Do we have to paint a picture for you? No worries—our good friends over at Experience Project already have. Check out their short but extremely powerful video on whaling here:
If you can watch it without reaching for a hanky, you are a stronger person than I am. While there, you can also take a minute to put your John Hancock on a letter to President Obama urging him to stand by his campaign promise to strengthen the international ban on whaling (which the Japanese and Norwegians are pretty much thumbing their noses at).
you have a general question for PETA and would like a response, please e-mail Info@peta.org. If you need to report cruelty to
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Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.