By Alexis Manning
Dolphins in Peru are having their lives cut short as fishermen take to the seas, illegally harpooning and killing the animals in order to harvest their skin for shark bait.
Sharks are a profitable commodity to fishermen, as their meat has long been considered an expensive delicacy in Asia, and now, a new report by the investigative group and conservation NGO Mundo Azul suggests that this shark meat demand is indirectly fueling another tragedy in our oceans: the slaughter of more than 15,000 dolphins each year in Peru alone.
Undercover reporters were embedded with the fishermen who kill the dolphins and recorded the graphic techniques they use: Fishermen track dolphin pods, and when they’re within shooting distance, they will aim a harpoon into the group and fire. Once they’ve hit their target, the fishermen will hoist the dolphin onto their boat and slice off the animals’ skin, sometimes while it is still alive. Other times, the animal is clubbed to death.
“I just went numb looking at the pitiful dolphin being battered with a club,” Stefan Austermühle, the president of Mundo Azul and an undercover reporter himself, said in an interview with Blue Voice, the organization that funded the mission. “All I could do was continue recording the event in the hope that making the world aware of this tragedy can somehow bring an end to it.”
While hunting dolphins is technically illegal in Peru, Austermühle calls it an “open secret” in the fishing industry, with little to no enforcement. The practice was outlawed in 1996, but it is rarely enforced, he said. More....