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On September 1st, the Japanese Fisheries Agency will once again open the season on dolphins in Taiji, Japan, as depicted in the award-winning 2009 documentary The Cove.
The Japanese Fisheries Agency and a handful of powerful individuals in the Japanese Government claim that the dolphin drive hunts are an important cultural tradition going back some 400 years. However, according to Taiji’s own town history, the first drive hunt actually took place in 1933. Also, extremely high mercury content in dolphins and whales, which was publicized by the International Marine Mammal Project’s Save Japan Dolphins campaign along with other groups including Japanese environmentalists, has contributed to a marked and sustained decline in the demand for dolphin flesh. The majority of young people in Japan do not eat this meat and do not want to feed it to their children. Still, the slaughter of innocent dolphins and whales continues.
At one point, Japanese market support for dolphin slaughter all but shut down. However, the massive influx of economic support from the dolphin and whale captivity entertainment industry (including places like Sea World) revived it and now keeps the brutality going, as documented in the film Fall From Freedom. The captivity entertainment industry’s demands for cosmetically perfect dolphins to replace those who die each year in captivity, and to expand captivity venues around the world are the primary sustainers of the continuing hunt in Taiji, as well as in other parts of the world.
After a pod is chased into the cove, a few ‘show-quality’ dolphins are selected and torn away from their families forever, doomed to live out their shortened lives in concrete tanks. Often, the rest of the pod is then killed. The dead mostly rot in cold storage with little to no market for their flesh. The few dolphins and whales who escape or who are driven back out into the ocean die alone without their pods, which are vital to their lives, or suffer from significant trauma from seeing their families and friends slaughtered before their very eyes.
Please join the International Marine Mammal Project’s Save Japan Dolphins campaign and other dolphin and whale supporters and organizations to protest the slaughter. Bring signs, banners, and friends, and remember to be respectful – no hate speech or violence will be tolerated at any event.
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Photo by Mark J. Palmer.