"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
US anthropologist & popularizer of anthropology (1901 - 1978)
It is truly heartening to witness the power of people making a difference in the world. We have seen global shifts, Arab Spring, Occupy movements, and even in our world of dolphins, OPS salutes our hearty supporters and followers. Look what we have done!
On February 21, the Environmental Investigation Agency published a report about Amazon Japan's sales of whale meat. The group noted that the selling of the meat, some of which reportedly came from endangered species, violated Amazon's policy against advertising unlicensed or illegal animal products. People took note and acted.
Cove Guardian Melissa Sehgal started a petition. The Humane Society International called for the public to contact Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. Using social media tools, Facebook, Twitter, Care2, thousands of people demanded that Amazon enact an immediate corporate-wide policy prohibiting the sale of all cetacean products.
Within days, Amazon had removed the products.
Then there was the Hong Kong Airlines incident.
News broke a few weeks ago that they had transported dolphins for a hefty profit. These "flying coffins" as they quickly became tagged, disturbed many individuals, for a number of reasons. The blatantly cruel rigging, the long flight, which originated in Osaka, the nearest major airport to Taiji.
Equally unsettling was the discovery of an internal memo, heralding this event to all Hong Kong Airlines staff.
“It is the first time for Hong Kong Airlines to fly this kind of large live animal in its history,” the memo reads. “The smooth handling of such special cargo which is time sensitive and vulnerable, demonstrates that Hongkong Airlines cargo handling capability has further improved.”
The memo goes on: “The B733F fleet utilization rate is increased by operating this charter flight during the aircraft spare time, and an extra cargo revenue income of HK$850,000 (including our own cargo sales income on the position sectors) has been achieved, which equivalent to HK$77,000 per block hour.”
Again, we witnessed public outcry. Petitions, Tweets and messages soared through the systems.
Within days, the carrier had no choice but to apologize.
"Hong Kong Airlines wishes to convey that it is a responsible member of the transport industry caring for the future and environment," the airline said.
"Since it is believed that transportation of this nature can result in endangering wildlife elsewhere, Hong Kong Airlines will immediately ban shipments of this kind," they stated.
Basically, they are sorry and won't do it again. And that's good, but it will be hard for them to erase the shame of having hundreds of news outlets around the world, from CNN to
Air Cargo World running this story.
So we at OPS are grateful. To the countless individuals who have seen The Cove and feel compelled to act. And start petitions. And Tweet. And send out emails sharing their outrage to their friends. And run the story on their blogs. And we are grateful to the online news community, enabling all to share well researched information.
So as we enter the year of the Dragon (symbol of good fortune and intense power in Eastern culture) we might be seeing change brought on by "a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens."