Berkeley’s Earth Island Institute, the group behind the Academy Award-winning documentary The Cove, is hoping the Oscar will draw increased attention to the slaughter of dolphins in Japan.

The Cove, will open in Japan next month, tells the story of a cove in Taijicho, a town in southeastern Japan where thousands of dolphins are herded each year and stabbed to death.

“People are calling in from around the world saying we hope this sends a signal to the Japanese government,” Earth Island Executive Director Dave Phillips told KGO reporter Don Sanchez.

The Earth Island Institute is planning to send 1,000 people to the cove village on September 1, the opening day of dolphin fishing season. The Japanese kill approximately 19,000 dolphins a year. They consume them as food. Residents of Taijicho have complained that the film is insensitive to their cultural heritage.

“This Oscar award will be one of the most meaningful things to the fate of wildlife and oceans on this planet,” Phillips told KGO.

But the group lost a chance to speak directly to billions of people  during the Oscar ceremonies.  When Matt Damon announced that The Cove had won, the producer of the film, actor Fisher Stevens, and the director, Louis Psihoyas, went to the podium, with a well-rehearsed 45-second speech about saving the world’s oceans. They were cut off prematurely, however. Fisher got to talk for 26 seconds, but then the music came up, effectively silencing Psihoyas. That may have happened because Ric O’Barry, the activist at the center of the film unrolled a banner at the Oscar ceremonies, angering the producers, according to the New York Times.

For more information about the campaign to stop the killing of dolphins, look here.

Frances Dinkelspiel, Berkeleyside and CItyside co-founder, is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman Created California, published in November...