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Shameful Dolphin Killing in Taiji, Japan to Resume on Sept. 1

| Mark J. Palmer, International Marine Mammal Project
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The notorious and cruel dolphin killing in Taiji, Japan, is scheduled to resume on September 1.  But this season, there will be one major difference. After a 10-year campaign by Save Japan Dolphins, in concert with Australians for Dolphins, Sea Shepherd and other groups, the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) is finally cracking down on Japan aquariums that buy dolphins from the Taiji drive fishery.  

WAZA told the Japan Association of Zoos and Aquariums that they would suspend the Japanese Association’s membership unless it stopped the blatant violation of its code of ethics on cruelty by trading in captive dolphins from. After a tumultuous vote, the Japan Association backed down and is preparing to sanction any Japanese aquariums that violate the new.

WAZA’s action demonstrates how out of touch Japanese aquariums have been in rewarding the abject cruelty of the Taiji dolphin kills and captures for lives in captivity.  It has put Japan’s zoos and aquariums in a shameful light.

MAY 20, 2015  GLAND, SWITZERLAND –

"World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) votes to SUSPEND all Japanese Aquariums for violating WAZA’s code of ethics and animal welfare provisions unless they immediately CEASE purchase of dolphins caught in the cruel Taiji dolphin drives."

Now, if all the Japanese aquariums follow through on their pledges to stop buying Taiji dolphins, it will take millions of yen out of the pockets of the Taiji dolphin killers and could render the entire Taiji dolphin killing operation uneconomic and unsustainable.  The sale of live dolphins from Taiji provides huge financial support for the entire dolphin killing operation.

Some Japanese aquariums, such as the infamous Taiji Whale Museum, are threatening to quit the Japan Association of Zoos and Aquariums to get around the ban on sourcing live dolphins from Taiji. These facilities want Taiji’s captive dolphins, because their own dolphins die such early deaths.

In concert with our Japanese colleagues we must spread the word about any aquariums that violate the ban and keep buying from Taiji.

Meanwhile, we remain part of the first lawsuit ever against the Taiji Whale Museum, which brokers most of the captive dolphins drawn from Taiji’s dolphin slaughter. With our colleagues from Australia for Dolphins, we are contesting the Whale Museum’s policy of refusing any entrance to Westerners, even to check up on the status of white albino dolphin Angel, who continues to languish there in a small tank.

We are also continuing to organize pressure Taiji’s Town Council, urging them to end the dolphin kills and offering our help to transition from dolphin-killing to eco-tourism and sustainable fishing efforts.