Izumi Ishii – From Dolphin Hunter To Bright Sea Whale Watcher

Izumi Ishii – From Dolphin Hunter To Bright Sea Whale Watcher

Izumi Ishii – From Dolphin Hunter To Bright Sea Whale Watcher – it takes great courage to go against family tradition and accepted cultural behaviour. It takes even greater courage to do so on behalf of animals – where sentient beings are NOT valued. Izumi Ishii has done just that in Futo, Japan.

We need to help Izumi in any way we can. Here is a very brave man making a strong statement in Japan about dolphin hunting and the fact that it is wrong. Please share this post with your friends and groups! It is IMPORTANT!

PLEASE NOTE  – This is the statement from today from Bright Sea about the albino dolphin baby captured in Tajii – ” The white baby dolphin is very special. The sacred animal should not be kept in captivity ! She has to be released. To keep her in captivity is a Human’s disgraceful deed. This is filthy act of humans. It’s a crying shame humans catch and kill them. It is time to bring back our good sense. We should not rob their freedom. We have to stand up! Release them to the ocean! We must stand together!


Once a hunter of dolphins – Izumi – now 66 years old – has become their champion. He has started Bright Sea – an initiative to protect dolphins and to attract tourists to his village to see dolphins and whales in the wild.


Through a mutual friend Maho Cwejiman – who has kindly translated for me – I asked Izumi a number of questions in an attempt to understand how he views dolphins now. His answers are informative and revealing. To assist with change in any culture where views are long held – we need first to understand and then to create awareness and change through offering another way of doing things that can be effective and productive.

Thank you to both Izumi and Maho – (grammar mistakes are in translation and I have not corrected them)

1)   How long has your family been involved in the dolphin hunt?

From the time of my grandfather. 

 2)   How old were you when you first went on a dolphin hunt?

When I was in elementary school (primary school).

 3)   Do you remember the first time that you killed a dolphin?

Yes I remember it well.

 4)  What did you feel?

I felt pitiful and sad.

 5)   How long did you participate in dolphin hunting?

The hunting season is between September to March each year – so I was joining the hunt during the season for many years.

 6)  When did a feeling of empathy for dolphins first come to you consciousness?

When I was 4 years old when I saw (witnessed) dolphins were getting killed in front of my eyes.

 7) Do you know why this happened ? (this feeling of empathy)

I believe that it was child’s honest and natural pure feeling to feel so (pitiful and sad).

 8) What made you go against  your heritage and your culture to stop hunting dolphins?

In 1996 during the hunting season – we were not informed of the restricted numbers we were allowed to hunt. So that year our village hunted many dolphins and whales.  Then one year after we discovered that we were breaking the rules.  But still I didn’t have idea to stop the hunting – but I advised our fishery union to make an apology for the violation of hunting restriction. But our union denied my advice. 

 A) –  ( Also at that point – animal right groups and media were pointing out our mistake – and I believed that if we were doing right and if we were honest – the Authorities would give us a more extended hunting permission).

B) –  (in Futo – then – as now –  I was a member of the  representative in our union).

 But I didn’t like it – wrong is wrong. 

So I started to protest against their behavior. I started to write what was happening and I handed out the pamphlets to people. They of course disliked my act. About 50 union members gathered for meetings to  oppose me. They wanted to kick me out, try me not to park my boat, wanted me quit being member of the union. Actually the union chief understood me and spoke up for me, he said ” Ishii is right ” but union members were against me and outraged.

Our Prefecture Fishery Agency only believed union members, they never asked me or listened to me about what was really happening. The Japan Coast Guard treated me as suspect and they made a 14 page report about me. I was questioned from 8 in the morning until 7 at night. 

One week after –  the Coast Guard called me and they said ” the violation of the hunting restriction was occurred but we don’t have the prescribed penal regulations. “.  After I listened their answer I was very disappointed.  Although on 1998 the prescribed penal regulation was finally set, yet union members were keep denying their mistake. 

I didn’t like the act of dishonesty!  Since then my honest feeling of pitifulness towards to dolphins became bigger and bigger. I decided to respect this honest feeling inside me and I decided to quit killing them. 

Since then I didn’t talk to other fishermen for over 3 years.  In 2002 IWC meeting was held in Shimonoseki – Japan and in the pressroom I announced that I was going to start start Whale Watching. So on September – that same year I started it. 

 9)  Do you have any regrets (about stopping the hunt)?

None, not at all. I an proud that I quit. 

 10)  How do you view dolphin hunting now?

We shall end cruelty. Why? – Because we have enough food now. I believe whale watching will bring more benefits and peace. It is better than selling dolphins and whales to aquarium and  killing them. 

11) Do people in your town support your decision?


12)  How do young people where you live feel about dolphin hunting? 

I think they feel sad and pity for the dolphins.  In 2004 elementary school children came to watch the hunting. I raised objections to the principal headmaster and he promised me he will not do this again. 

13)  What do people around the world need to try to understand about the killing of dolphins and those who kill them? 

I think this is very difficult issue since I know they are many people against the hunting, and also there are many who approve of the hunting. That is why we try to seek to deepen their understanding of ending hunting of dolphins.

 14) How is your business with Bright Sea going?

(* –  Bright Sea is an organization which Ishii sun just started recently).

There has been no hunting in my town since 2005 – but contrary to general expectation – people’s attention are decreased once the hunting was ended. So my debt kept mounting. It has been hard to keep my whale watching business going. 

 15)   How can animal advocates around the world help you?

 I hope people who support me can come to my whale watching! That would be a great support. but it is not easy, so if people want to support me, if you can skip one of your meal per year, and donate as support to my whale watching it would be a sweet support. I have 2500 Facebook friend supporters – so it will be helpful). 

The worst case is that I have to quit whale watching due to bad business. But I am deeply believing that my whale watching is silent and quiet but I very strongly oppose and demonstrate against hunting! 

Also I am an unusual hunter once who was once killing dolphins but then but I ended that and so I keep asking for support for my actions!

 16)   How do you view dolphin families now?

I am very happy. Also –  if the Fisherman Union could see that my whale watching customers keep coming – there could be a chance that they too would start to think about whale watching more seriously. When whale watching customers come to this area – they book hotels and restaurants and I hope they will start to understand that it is much more beneficial than killing and destroying dolphin lives. 

One More Thing I Also Want To Mention Is That:

I witness that there are conflict between (animal rights) organizations and that is very sad. People who love dolphins and whales have the same goal so we should not be criticizing each other. If all activists and citizens could come together – we can achieve our goals. 

I deeply believe that some one like me has to hand in letters to the Fishery Agency – therefore I am asking every person who cares for dolphins and whales in Japan to write a letter to me. I am going to hand in the letters face to face to the Fishery Agency.  Since they are the decision makers and permit the hunting to happen. So we shall make our approach to these Authorities.