Debate over dolphin hunt a sham: "The Cove" star

Tue Nov 2, 2010 2:01pm EDT
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By Hyun Oh

TAIJI, Japan (Reuters) - One of the stars of "The Cove," the controversial Oscar-winning documentary about a grisly annual dolphin hunt, on Tuesday boycotted a debate set up by the town made famous in the film, calling it "a sham."

Taiji, a town in western Japan, remains a center of controversy in the wake of the film. Several NGOs camped out around Taiji say at least two dolphin hunts have taken place since the hunting season began in September.

Media had been told in advance of the debate, the first of its kind in the town, that they would be able to film only part of the event. Reuters TV was able to film the whole event.

Organizers asked media to pre-register and only allowed questions submitted in advance to be raised. Several Japanese newspapers were barred from entering the local community center to cover the debate, Japanese media said.

"The mayor has ordered severe restrictions on the Japanese and Western media representatives'... ability to freely cover this event," said Ric O'Barry, one of the stars of The Cove, after leading media away from the community center.

"This conference has turned out to be a total sham," O'Barry added, though he cautioned that this did not mean he wanted to be associated with people advocating stronger tactics to oppose the hunt.

But anti-hunting activists were able to express their views.

"Dolphins are not fish. They shouldn't be referred to as fishery," said Jeff Pantukhoff, of the Whaleman Foundation.   Continued...

<p>A woman reads a brochure for the movie "The Cove" at a theatre in Tokyo July 3, 2010. REUTERS/Issei Kato</p>