Evidence against them obtained in secret
Three Peruvian fishermen were tried in court on August 16th for killing dolphins and using their bodies as bait to catch sharks. This is the first time that this illegal but common practice has been brought to trial.
Their illegal act was secretly filmed for 24 days on a longline fishing boat by Stefan Austermühle, the German-born founder of the Peru-based conservation group Mundo Azul. He and his companion Aldo Bardales would be summoned to testify in court.
Thanks to the footage, the Peruvian public prosecutor was able to bring charges against the fishermen. Describing the trial as a major breakthrough, Sigrid Lüber, President of the Swiss marine conservation organisation Ocean Care, said, “To illegally use dolphin meat as cheap bait and then to use it to attract and decimate sharks is a double environmental crime which needs to stop.”
Based on the number of shark fishing vessels and a number of undercover testimonies, Austermühle estimates that as many as 15,000 dolphins perish every year.
Austermühle’s footage showed dolphins being harpooned, then cut into pieces and used for shark bait. The team also captured scenes of shark finning in Peru, where sharks – many not yet of reproductive age – are brought ashore and finned. “We shot heart-wrenching footage of baby sharks being marketed for ceviche. Peru is well on its way to wiping out the shark populations along its coast. The government is doing nothing to stop it. But we believe our efforts can change that,” said Austermühle.
The acquired footage will be part of a documentary (oceancare.org/.../pacific_horror_der_film/) targeted for international television broadcast. “It is my hope that our film will have a happy ending in which Peru rededicates itself to the protection of dolphins and its marine resources,” said Hardy Jones, managing director of US organisation Blue Voice and the film's producer.
The organisations – Mundo Azul in Peru (www.mundoazul.org), OceanCare in Switzerland) (www.oceancare.org), Blue Voice in USA (www.bluevoice.org) and One Voice in France (www.one-voice.fr) – have formed an alliance to end the brutal slaughter of dolphins and sharks in Peru.
Further information: www.oceancare.org/.../delphinjagdperu/