Every year, in Taiji, Japan, dolphins are chased into a small cove and butchered in the most horrific and cruel way imaginable. The hunts are subsidized by the dolphin captivity industry, which pays top dollar for a few “show quality” dolphins that are ripped from their families. The rest of the pod is killed for meat laden with mercury and PCBs. Most Japanese don’t even know the hunts exist. The Japanese government supports the dolphin killers and denies any health issues.
In 2004, we started our Save Japan Dolphins campaign. Through our educational work in Japan, the number of people eating dolphin meat has dropped dramatically. When we started, about 1,600 dolphins were killed inTaiji every year. In the 2014-15 season, fewer than 750 were killed. The Academy Award–winning documentary, The Cove, depicts Earth Island Institute’s campaign in Taiji to stop the dolphin hunts. Recently, the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums, after 10 years of pressure, agreed to suspend the membership of any Japanese aquarium sourcing dolphins from Taiji. In response, Japan zoos and aquariums voted overwhelmingly to stop buying live dolphins from Taiji.
The Taiji dolphin slaughter continues. The government claims the kills are part of Japan’s traditional culture when, in fact, they only started in 1969. Many Japanese who oppose the hunts are afraid to speak out publicly because of threats from the government and the extremist anti-foreigners groups. We continue to work inside Japan with Japanese activists and organizations to fight the dolphin killing and spread the news about mercury contamination of dolphin meat. We also joined in filing the first-ever lawsuit in Japan against the Taiji Whale Museum, which brokers many of the live dolphins caught in Taiji during the slaughter.
Mark J. Palmer, December 2017
In a blatant move that undermines all sense of scientific integrity, the Japan Fisheries Agency has granted new increased quotas to the Taiji dolphin hunters for two dolphin species whose quotas have been filled.
During last summer, the Japan Fisheries Agency issued permits to Taiji to kill and catch for captivity two new species of dolphins – rough-toothed dolphins and melon-headed whales – on top of the quotas for seven other species Taiji already slaughters.
Mark Palmer, December 2017
With half the season over, the total number of dolphins slaughtered so far is only 129 dolphins, despite Taiji receiving quotas for two new species to kill this season. This compares with 300 dolphins killed by Nov. 30th in 2016, making this season’s kill only 43% of last season’s at this time.
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