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.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • etchasketch

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

  • MayonnaiseLover

    So, the western world kills pigs and eats them

  • 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

    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