Taiji starts hunt, vows to sell haul to aquariums

TAIJI, Wakayama Pref. (Kyodo) Fishermen of Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture, caught about 100 bottlenose dolphins and 50 pilot whales Wednesday to kick off its annual mammal hunt despite criticism from animal-rights activists overseas against the whaling town’s long-held tradition.

The fishermen plan to sell 40 to 50 of the dolphins to aquariums nationwide and release the rest to the sea.

This nonslaughter policy for dolphins was adopted in the face of criticism abroad.

The Australian town of Broome said last month it will sever its sister city ties with Taiji if it continues killing dolphins.

It remains to be seen, however, what will happen for the rest of this hunting season, which runs until spring.

As to the whales, however, the fishermen plan to slaughter them and sell their meat on the market, the fishermen said.

Driving dolphins and small whales into shallow coves using nets is not subject to a ban by the International Whaling Commission, and Taiji fishermen have been given a local quota to cull 240 dolphins and whales this season.

This year’s hunting season technically started Sept. 1, but bad weather delayed the traditional cull.