Target: Kenji Kagawa, director of Japan’s Fishery Agency’s Resources Enhancement Promotion Department
Goal: End the hunting and eating of endangered sea lions in Japan
The Steller sea lions that reside off the coast of Hokkaido, Japan are an endangered species that deserve protection. Unfortunately, they are routinely killed and sold for their meat, despite their protected status both in Japan and worldwide. This is a travesty not only because the hunting of an endangered species is unethical, but also shameful in light of Japan’s history hunting marine mammals to near or full extinction.
Sea lions, like all marine mammals, are majestically intelligent creatures with an intuitive nature and complex communication systems. It is illegal to kill one in the United States and Canada. In Japan, their killing is supposed to be limited to an extremely small number in isolated areas for the sole purpose of reducing competition for fisheries. Although in ancient times sea lion and seal meat was necessary for sustenance in many areas throughout the world, such reliance on the sea lion for food is no longer necessary and should be abolished.
In Hokkaido, Japan and the surrounding area, sea lion and seal meat is sold in cans as a novelty food. Cans of “sea lion curry” and “seal curry” are sold primarily in souvenir shops and online stores, but are not dietary staples of locals in the area. According to vice.com, one online advertisement for seal meat relied on the exotic and forbidden nature of the product saying, “Sea Lions are called the ‘gangsters of the ocean’; they break through nets, consume huge amounts of fish. They’re the archenemy of the fisherman. However, in Hokkaido they are a delicacy. In order to preserve the deliciousness, they’re boiled the traditional Japanese way (with ginger, miso, sugar).” Killing off an already endangered species is too high a price to pay for a silly gag gift for out-of-towners.
Although Steller sea lions were recently downgraded by the Japanese government from an endangered species to a “near endangered species” they are still highly threatened and considered deeply endangered elsewhere. Kenji Kagawa, the director of the Resources Enhancement Promotion Department in Japan’s Fishery Agency has the power to speak out on this issue and end the selling of seal and sea lion meat in his country. Call on him to do so today.
Dear Kenji Kagawa,
The hunting of any threatened or endangered species for recreation or consumption is reprehensible. Steller sea lions, although no longer technically considered endangered by the government of Japan, are still considered worldwide to be a highly vulnerable species. They are being killed off so that their meat may be sold to tourists; this kind of animal cruelty is shameful and unnecessary.
I am writing today to urge you to speak out and commit to the protection of Steller sea lions living off the coast of Hokkaido, so that future generations may enjoy this beautiful marine mammal.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Lauber Lon E via wikimedia commons.