No drop in orders for Taiji dolphins despite restriction

Kyodo, JIJI

Orders for dolphins caught in drive hunts in Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture, this fiscal year are coming in at almost the same rate as before even though the Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums has banned its members from buying animals caught via such methods.

A local fishermen’s union said Monday that the orders are mostly coming in from facilities that are not members of JAZA and dealers who may be exporting the dolphins.

Of the roughly 150 orders placed this year, the only applicant belonging to JAZA was the Taiji Whale Museum, according to sources close to the purchase.

Orders from members of the association generally accounted for 20 to 30 percent of applicants in previous years.

JAZA introduced punitive measures last month, including possible expulsion from the body, for members acquiring dolphins captured in drive hunts, in line with the hard-line stance adopted by the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA).

The world body had threatened to expel the Japanese body if its members continue to buy such dolphins, criticizing the practice as cruel.

The practice of herding dolphins into coves has long been used in Taiji.

It attracted controversy after the 2009 Oscar-winning U.S. documentary “The Cove” showed the bloody slaughter of the mammals caught by this method.

Those who want to take part in the lottery determining the order for purchasing dolphins caught in drive hunts to start next month were supposed to apply by Monday to the fishermen’s union.

The roughly 150 orders for the current fiscal year, which ends next March, came from some 20 facilities, compared with the approximately same figure from about 30 facilities last year.

An official of an aquarium in western Japan that is a member of JAZA said many association members decided not to buy dolphins from Taiji out of fear of ruining their reputation.

About half of the dolphins caught in Taiji have been exported to foreign countries including China, South Korea and Russia in recent years, according to data obtained by Kyodo News.

The Japan association decided in May not to buy dolphins caught by drive hunting amid international protests and pressure from WAZA.

While the decision enables the group to remain a member of the world body, it has set high hurdles for aquariums if they want to continue holding dolphin shows as major attractions.

Dolphins are hunted for their meat as well as to supply aquariums under catch limits approved by the Fisheries Agency.

As of the end of 2012, aquariums in Japan had 287 dolphins, according to JAZA. Around 240 were wild dolphins, of which most were caught off Taiji and purchased for about ¥1 million each.

“We were able to procure as many dolphins as necessary when we asked Taiji,” the head of an aquarium said.

Aquariums in Japan will need to shift the procurement of dolphins to breeding after the decision not to buy them from Taiji. But this requires large capital investments, including for the construction of birthing pools, despite the low success rate of breeding the animals in captivity.

  • brwstacsj

    You have got to be kidding with this article. Did Taiji pay you? The Taiji dolphin hunt is barbaric. If there is less blood in the water it’s because after the fishermen are done pounding a metal spike through the dolphins’ blowhole (while they are fully conscious), they immediately pound a wooden peg into the blowhole to limit the amount of blood that seeps into the water. There is nothing human that these fishermen do when it comes to the killing of dolphins unfortunate enough to be herded into that cove. I wish you paper would be more unbiased when you published your news. The article above is nothing but propaganda for the Taiji Fishermen’s Union.

    • Maria Schilling

      They put the plug BEHIND the blowhole to stop the bleeding, since the dolphins are not stabbed in the blowhole but behind in where their neck is.

      • brwstacsj

        Your correct about where they stab the dolphins. Thank you for correcting me. It is still a horrible way to kill dolphins.

  • lizette maas

    not cruel??? every drive is the cruelst thing I ever saw…highly intelligent beings are being caught, killed or sold for money and humans entertainement only….When will humans ever learn that animals are not ours to abuse, use, kill or/and eat. !!! Dolphins are entiteled to live a live just like we do. !!

  • Erma

    Drive hunting is not cruel?!? I’ve watched drives from start to finish and it’s unconscionable how inhumane and barbaric they are.

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  • Teresa Wagner

    Perhaps they might consider closing their aquariums altogether and create new businesses that do not involve cruelty to animals.

  • SuzanneSmith

    JAZA is not being truthful. The hunts are inhumane and enough people know this now and are following the hunts every Sept>March. Even with the attempts at hiding the amount of blood and the brutality, enough leaks out such as when dolphins crashed themselves on shore trying to escape the hooks of the Taiji thugs. Taiji is not fooling anyone.

  • Jennifer Wilson

    I can understand all of the comments about the cruelty involved in the slaughter. We are all too aware of it. But you are missing the entire point! This article is positive in that things are not looking good for the Taiji fishermen since aquariums in Japan have made the decision not to buy dolphins from Taiji.

    Things are not boding well for the annual Taiji slaughter. This breaking news, which was issued on August 10, 2015, will most certainly have an impact on the drive as well.

    “Feds Propose New Rules to Protect Whales, Dolphins in Other Countries”

    Regulations Will Prohibit Seafood Imports That Don’t Meet U.S. Standards for Marine Mammal Protection

    • brwstacsj

      Jennifer, according to the news article, Taiji is projecting 150 orders for captured dolphins–the exact same order number as last year. So, that doesn’t seem like progress. I am glad that you wish the slaughter and capture ended, too, and hopefully we can get the Taiji Fishermen’s Union to stop killing/enslaving these beautiful mammals.

      • Jennifer Wilson

        brwstacsj Ah… Thanks for clarifying that. I was mistakenly concentrating on the figures from 2012 at the end of which Japan aquariums had 270 of which 240 were procured from Taiji. I interpreted this to mean that since most Japanese aquariums have decided not to buy from Taiji, but rather breed – which will, like SeaWorld, still result in captivity, but without the blood and brutality, then the end result would be substantially lower numbers taken from the Taiji Drive…

        Any number is unacceptable and I will not rest until the slaughter becomes a thing of the past. I will fight with Sea Shepherd and many other groups, 2 of which have born witness and even set things up for the stream to be made possible from every day.

        Finally, Taiji could do very well benefit if they changed the town to a tourist attraction. But that is another conversation. :)

      • But it is encouraging that the press is following up on this story! This is the first time that I’ve seen the number of orders for dolphins reported before the hunts have even begun. The press needs to follow up on exactly who is buying, how they are transported, and the final destination.

      • SuzanneSmith

        Why do you believe them? Let them show the orders….on paper.

      • Jennifer Wilson

        Sorry for sending you all of these links, but 2 or 3 of them say the comment is waiting approval from The Japanese Times Online

  • etchasketch

    This is an issue that only the western world gives a crap about.

    • tisho

      what is your definition of ”the western world”?

    • brwstacsj

      Your statement is inaccurate. There are people that care in Asia and no doubt their numbers will grow when they learn what is going on. Ric O’Barry recently did a book tour in China about the Taiji dolphin killing and a lot of people showed up at each event. His book is selling well over there.

      • etchasketch

        Oh the country with the dog eating festival?

      • brwstacsj

        Yes, they unfortunately do have the festival in one town. One town. There are courageous Chinese people that are fighting to end this. You should do more research before you make such snotty comments.

  • So, the western world kills pigs and eats them

    • SuzanneSmith

      This is not about Western and Eastern. It is about animal cruelty and killing. Many in the East and West are against Taiji ….and killing pigs….and killing cows. All people in all parts of the world are a mixture of animal torturers and animal protectors. Period

  • SuzanneSmith

    The sale of dolphins and whales for abusement parks must be made internationally illegal. That’s really our goal now.

  • Bai Sheng

    Well, it looks like we have the usual english-speaking ethnocentrists writing comments. I’ll quote Stan Marsh : “Why can’t the Japanese be normal like us?”

    • SuzanneSmith

      Cruelty is cruelty. Stop making this about nationalities. That is an attempt to divert. The people against this are also against killing cows and pigs for the most part.

      • Bai Sheng

        And blindness is blindness. Ethnocentrism is all that issue is about. The diversion is actually to make the sheeple of the world focus on Japan while Russia, Danemark, Canada, Iceland, Norway, Korea, Tonga and the u.s of A kill whales to eat them all the same. Are you aware of the real induced mortality on sea mammals caused by the extensive use of active sonars and other sonic devices in the deep blue sea? Mainly by the military, mainly by the US military? At least the hunted mammals do not go to waste when processed for human consumption. And please don’t play the “it is gonna end in freezers” card on me. Every rich country has huge amounts of frozen protein sources to prevent the consequences that meat shortage could have on our societies. It just happens to be whale meat in Japan. If it is any more acceptable for you to breed cows with the sole intent of slaughtering them, then I think you get the ethnocentrism in it.

      • DrPaulone

        We are talking about the cruel slaughter of a VERY intelligent animal. Quit trying to change the subject, this article is not about any other country and by using the “you are just as bad as we are”..that’s a poor rebuttal. We are talking about evolving which is hopefully about eating less animals. Especially the animals that are self aware. I don’t eat any. I am not telling you that you shouldn’t. This slaughter is not humane. Period

  • SuzanneSmith

    I would like proof that orders are coming in at about the same rate. I don’t believe it. Furnish the numbers please, so they can be scrutinized

  • SuzanneSmith

    Just as I thought. It’s been 4 days. There is NO confirmation that Taiji orders are the same. None. Don’t buy their lies.

  • ziggypop

    This is the shame of Japan. Barbaric, fraught with torture. Unlimited suffering physically and emotionally.

    I refuse to buy anything Japanese and wish a pox upon anyone who is involved with the hunt. T