The dolphin fishers in Taiji, Japan, upped their annual slaughter of wild dolphins this year, after they rounded several hundred into a cove last week and then, over the past couple of days, have either placed them in captivity for display in aquariums and "swim with dolphin" facilities, or in the majority of cases, have killed them for their dubious meat.
From NBC News:
Japanese fishermen drove a large group of dolphins into the shallows on Tuesday and, hiding from reporters and TV cameras behind a tarpaulin, killed at least 30 as the annual dolphin hunt that sparked protest in the West entered its final stages.
Both the U.S. and British ambassadors to Japan have strongly criticized the "drive killings" of dolphins citing the "terrible suffering" inflicted on the marine mammals.
Every year the fishermen of Taiji, in western Wakayama prefecture, drive hundreds of dolphins into a cove, select some for sale to marine parks, release some and kill the rest for meat.
On Tuesday, at least 30 dolphins out of the group of more than 200 held in the cove since Friday were herded by boat engines and nets into a killing area of the Taiji cove.
Ric O'Barry, the founder of the campaign against the Taiji atrocity, was on CNN last night with Anderson Cooper. He goes into greater depth about what can be done here:
One of Japan's foremost defenders of the dolphins, our colleague Sakae Hemmi of the Elsa Nature Conservancy of Japan, submitted a letter a few weeks ago to Dr. Gerald Dick, Executive Director of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA), which includes as a member the Japan Association of Zoos and Aquariums (JAZA), one of whose members is Angel's captor, the Taiji Whale Museum.
Dr. Dick responded to Elsa stating that WAZA would not take action against the hunts: "As you know, in some Japanese communities these drives have been part of the culture for centuries."
This is nonsense, and Ms. Hemmi has replied to Dr. Dick with an open letter stating that: "In fact, the history of dolphin hunting in Taiji is short. According to The History of Taiji, edited and published by Taiji town in 1979, the first recorded dolphin drive was in 1933, with subsequent hunts occurring in 1936 and 1944. It was not until 1969 that dolphin drives have been conducted on a large scale. The history of the dolphin drives spans not so-called 400 years, but a mere 45. Furthermore, in 1969, the main goal of the dolphin drive was to capture pilot whales as prized showpieces for the Taiji Whale Museum. In other words, the dolphin drive was purely for profit, having nothing to do with cultural history."
Elsa and two other grassroots Japanese environmental organizations are asking WAZA, in their open letter, to eject JAZA members that violate the WAZA "Code of Ethics" in using the brutal hunts to catch dolphins for display, thereby subsidizing the slaughter of dolphins for meat.
Perhaps the strangest thing is that, in defending what they see as their honor, the Japanese traditionalists so fiercely rebuking their critics are only staining the honor and reputation of their nation in the eyes of the rest of the world by permitting this kind of slaughter of wild, free-roaming and highly intelligent/sentient animals. It is not just the West that is horrified when we see the pictures coming out of Taiji now, such as those Tim Zimmerman has compiled at National Geographic. It is shameful by nearly any standard of basic decency, and it is past time that it ended.
Mimi Bekhechi at The Independent offers her thoughts:
This horrific massacre goes on for six months a year during which time more than 20,000 dolphins and small whales – including babies and their mothers – are corralled into shallow waters, disorientated with underwater sounds, run over in boats, netted, starved for days and then killed by having their throats cut with knives or by having metal spears driven into their spinal cords in front of their terrified families. Dolphins are so devoted to one another that even those who escape from the killing area have been known to linger nearby to wait for their family, even if that means being killed themselves.
It is commonly assumed that the Japanese fishermen hunting these highly sentient beings do so to supply a small minority of Japanese people with dolphin meat. But in fact, the Japanese government issues permits to kill dolphins in order to prevent them from consuming the fish in Japan’s surrounding oceans, which it prefers to reserve for human consumption.