Dolphins Await Slaughter in Taiji, Japan

Published Sep 16, 2014 6:26 PM by The Maritime Executive

The annual dolphin drive hunting commenced in the coastal town of Taiji, Japan, on the 1st of September 2014. The fisherman returned empty-handed for the first 15 days of the season, however this morning it was confirmed a pod of dolphins have been herded into the cove (made famous in the 2009 Academy Award nominated documentary The Cove), and are awaiting their fate - to either be sold into a lifetime of captivity, or brutally slaughtered.

The dolphins fought their capture for more than three hours, to the point of exhaustion, before they were herded into the killing cove using incredibly cruel methods.

Unfortunately, these are likely to be the first of many dolphins killed this hunting season, which continues until March next year. The 2014-2015 hunt quota is 1,938 cetaceans. Taiji fishermen have been permitted to catch 70 false killer whales, 114 short finned pilot whales, 134 Pacific white-sided dolphins, 261 Risso's dolphins, 400 Pantropical spotted dolphins, 450 striped dolphins, and 509 bottlenose dolphins.

Last year saw the death of approximately 834 dolphins. An additional 158 were sold into live capture and 457 were detained before release.

Taiji was front-page news in January when, in response to what was perhaps the largest dolphin hunt in history, Caroline Kennedy tweeted the US government’s opposition to the hunts. This prompted celebrities and businesspeople such as Richard Branson and Yoko Ono to join their voices in opposition.

Further attention was placed on Taiji earlier this year, when dolphin hunters captured an extremely rare albino dolphin calf from the wild. Given the name “Angel” by animal welfare organisations, the baby dolphin has become a symbol of the cruel nature of the hunts and their role in sustaining an international dolphin captivity trade. Angel’s capture prompted global outrage, with thousands signing a petition to have her freed, and calling for an end to the annual dolphin slaughter.

A Melbourne based non-profit organistion, Australia for Dolphins, is engaged in an ongoing legal case against the Taiji Whale Museum, where Angel is being kept in atrocious conditions. The Action for Angel lawsuit asserts that the Taiji government, as the owner and operator of the Taiji Whale Museum, is behaving illegally by refusing entrance to law-abiding people based on their appearance. This conduct is a violation of the Japanese Constitution, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race.

A procedural court session in the Action for Angel lawsuit is taking place in Japan today, the 16th September, 2014. If successful, the Action for Angel case will open the Taiji Whale Museum to the sunlight of public scrutiny.

Video footing of previous Taiji hunts can be viewed here.