A group of eco-activists, including several prominent Hollywood celebrities, have written a petition to US President Barack Obama, asking him to not sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement with Japan until the Asian superpower agrees to stop its annual dolphin hunt. The “tradition” has received recent media attention due to global criticism from high-profile personalities, including US ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy.
Prominent hip-hop producer Russell Simmons wrote a letter to Ambassador Kennedy, asking her to convince Obama not to sign the TPP agreement, which is still being negotiated among the twelve member countries, until the Japanese government agrees to stop the dolphin hunt in the fishing village of Taiji. The petition was signed by big-time celebrities like Sean Penn, Cher, Susan Sarandon, Jennifer Hudson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Charlize Theron, Ellen DeGeneres, William Shatner and many others. Kennedy had recently tweeted about the dolphin hunt, calling it “inhumane”, emphasizing the U.S’ stand on this issue
Simmons mentioned in the letter that the petition is not against the TPP itself, but to be able to use it as a leverage to stop this “atrocity.” “Should human compassion not be afforded the same privilege as business interests?,” states the letter. He told Kennedy that the world is now looking to her to help send “a clear message” that activities like this should not be tolerated. The letter also cites statistics that around 600 dolphins have been killed since September 2013 when the hunting season began. Just last month, 40 were killed and their meat sold while 50 were sold to aquariums and marine parks. The 2009 Oscar-wining documentary The Cove brought international attention to the dolphin round-up and every year since then, during this time, eco-activists call for an end to the practice that the locals call a fishing tradition that also helps their livelihood.
[ via ABC News ]