Contentious annual dolphin hunt begins in Taiji


The first dolphins of the season were slaughtered Tuesday in the small town of Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture, campaigners and a local fishermen’s union said, commencing an annual cull repeatedly condemned by animal rights groups.

Activists from the environmentalist group Sea Shepherd have been monitoring a bay in Taiji since the six-month dolphin season began earlier this month.

“First pod of 2014-2015 being driven into cove now,” the activists from Sea Shepherd, who call themselves “Cove Guardians,” tweeted at 10:33 a.m.

About an hour later, @CoveGuardians said: “First dolphin murder of the drive hunt season is complete as dead bodies are dragged to Taiji butcherhouse.”

An official from the local fishermen’s union confirmed they had made the first catch of the season.

“We caught 12 Risso’s dolphins,” he said, adding they had already been killed for their meat.

There were no dolphins left in the bay, he said, and fishermen would continue with their hunt over the coming days.

The campaigners are streaming live footage of a secluded bay, into which local fishermen corral hundreds of dolphins for slaughter, a practice that thrust the small town into the global spotlight in 2010 when it became the subject of the Oscar-winning documentary “The Cove.”

Defenders say it is a tradition and point out that the animals it targets are not endangered, a position echoed by the Japanese government.

They say Western objections are hypocritical and ignore the vastly larger number of cows, pigs and sheep butchered to satisfy demand elsewhere.

But critics of the practice say there is insufficient demand for the animals’ meat, which in any case contains dangerous levels of mercury.

The annual dolphin hunting season opened Sept. 1 and is expected to continue until the end of February.

Japan has self-imposed restrictions on dolphin hunting, allowing the catching of seven species with quotas for each prefecture in which they are hunted.

In the case of Wakayama Prefecture, quotas for local fishermen are set just under 2,000 short-finned pilot whales and false killer whales, and Pacific white-sided, striped, bottlenose, Pantropical spotted, and Risso’s dolphins.

“These restrictions are imposed so that the marine resources can be used sustainably,” a Fisheries Agency official said.

Last season, the slaughter sparked renewed global criticism after U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy tweeted her concern at the “inhumaneness” of the hunt.

The first dolphin kill of the season came as the sharply split International Whaling Commission meeting opened in Slovenia on Monday, where Japan is expected to announce its controversial plans to resume Antarctic whaling.

It is the first global meeting on whaling since the United Nations’ highest court handed down a verdict in March that Japan had abused a loophole in the international whaling moratorium that allows for lethal scientific research.

  • timefox

    A foreigner is a classic example which makes a problem freely.

    • phu

      This is the second post of yours I’ve seen, and neither has actually been intelligible as actual English.

      If you’re going to clutter the comments sections here with generalizations and xenophobia (which is the only way I can read your statement), please at least make sure they’re at very least readable. Otherwise it’s impossible for those of us you’re obviously trying to bait to understand your trolling.

  • Don Corleone

    Come on guys, stop.

  • DensetsuX

    “They say Western objections are hypocritical and ignore the vastly
    larger number of cows, pigs and sheep butchered to satisfy demand
    If Japanese would actually be breeding the dolphins they kill and do that in a less savage way they could make this argument, but since they are cruelly killing wild animals they should better shut up with this lame comparison because it shows their lack of intelligence. That they even have to resort to this farfetched comparison shows how desperate they are to justify their actions, fully knowing that what they do is wrong.

    • Erma

      Anything would be more humane than the backward, barbaric method they use. The animals caught for aquariums lay on shore and listen to their pods cry and scream and struggle while dying.

  • Jillybean

    Dolphins are highly intelligent mammals that live in tight knit and loving families. They help humans and are gentle in nature. They suffer pain, they mourn and know what is going on as they get killed and watch family get killed. The reason for the drives is $$$$.. greed. If they could not sell the prettiest dolphins to marine parks for BIG money then there would be no reason for the drives. This must stop as it is not humane. Killing 12 dolphins for their meat.? Meat toxic with mercury that they are feeding to children. 12 Boats and numerous “fishermen” to kill 12 dolphins? The town excited for the first kill of year. The Taiji Whale Museum is a disgrace. For all these and more reasons…..This needs to STOP!

  • Roman

    Stop the slaughter!!! No reasoning about killing these beautiful, smart incredible creatures. Not for food, spite, sport ….no excuses . They deserve a right to live a long ,peaceful life. Stop the massacre!

  • tiger

    reasonable killings are okay – but only reasonable ones.

  • Erma

    Did they happen to mention that they took the youngest animals back out and dumped them in the sea to die so that they wouldn’t count against the quota? Cruel, inhumane, brutal, greedy.