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 2016-17 season, 595 were reportedly 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 Academy Award-winning documentary “The Cove” depicts the work of the International Marine Mammal Project in opposing the dolphin hunts in Taiji. 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're also leading a campaign to influence Japan to stop killing whales and dolphins and we are requesting International Olympics Committee to ban whale and dolphin products at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. We also joined in filing the successful first-ever lawsuit in Japan against the Taiji Whale Museum, which brokers many of the live dolphins caught in Taiji during the slaughter. With success in the courts, the Museum and other dolphinariums cannot prohibit entry of activists.
Mark J. Palmer, July 2018
New reports indicate that Japan will push a government-endorsed proposal to resume commercial whaling at the upcoming meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC). Despite Japan’s repeated violations of the global moratorium, through the “research whaling” program, some in Japan are reportedly pressuring the government to leave the IWC altogether, something the Japanese delegation to the IWC has repeatedly threatened in meetings.
It turns out that whales who are young or pregnant are easier to kill, probably because they can’t swim as fast as the rest of their family attempting to outrun harpoon vessels.
This depressing discovery wasn’t included in the report that NEWREP-A, Japan’s alleged ‘scientific’ whaling program, submitted to the International Whaling Commission.
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