Animal rights groups may boycott products from Wakayama Prefecture in response to some 10 killer whales being caught and auctioned to amusement facilities and aquariums, it was learned Feb. 11.

The whales were caught in Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture, last Feb. 6 after local fishermen herded them onto the beach. The local fisheries cooperatives held an auction and five killer whales were purchased by amusement parks and aquariums, while the rest were returned to the sea on Feb. 10, according to the Wakayama Prefectural Government.

The Japan Antivivisection Association and other animal rights groups have sent messages to the Wakayama governor and the fisheries cooperatives, demanding the release of the killer whales. Three whales were purchased by Adventure World in Shirahama, Wakayama Prefecture, one by the Whale Museum in Taiji and another by Izu-Mito Sea Paradise.

“We will continue to press these establishments and the Fisheries Agency for the whales to be released. But if the whales are not released, we may launch a campaign to boycott products from the prefecture and its tourism industry,” said Yukari Suruki, a representative from Tokyo-based Dolphin & Whales Action Network. The group plans to stage a protest at the prefectural government building Feb. 12.

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