SYDNEY — The Broome Shire Council voted Tuesday to unanimously reject an earlier resolution to effectively suspend its sister-city status with Taiji, after it expressed concern over the Wakayama Prefecture town’s annual dolphin cull.
Until this year, fishermen in Taiji herded into shallows thousands of dolphins that were mainly slaughtered for their meat. The plight of the dolphins in Taiji was highlighted in “The Cove,” a recently released film that contained bloody footage of the kill and sparked outrage around the world.
The Taiji Fisheries Cooperative has not killed any dolphins in the current harvest, which started at the beginning of September, a co-op official said Wednesday, adding it caught dolphins to sell to aquariums in Japan and killed whales for food.
After coming under significant international and national pressure, the Western Australia town of Broome announced Aug. 22 that “it will be unable to fulfill its pledge as a sister town with Taiji while the practice of harvesting dolphins exists.”
However, three Broome Shire councilors opposed the decision and petitioned for a special meeting to officially call for the rescission of the original resolution.
In reaching their decision to overturn the resolution, councilors said while they did not condone Taiji’s dolphin cull, they were deeply sorry for the manner in which the resolution was executed.
The council said it “unreservedly apologizes to the Japanese community in Broome and Taiji, their families and friends for any disrespect caused by the council’s resolution (and) the haste with which the decision was made.”
A series of recommendations in the new resolution include sending a delegation to the Taiji Municipal Assembly to reaffirm the relationship as well as potentially organizing an exchange program in 2011, to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the sister-city status.
The shire council repeated that it “would like to support Taiji by offering to facilitate alternative economic opportunities similar to those that have seen Broome flourish through tourism and promotion of its natural marine resources and landscape beauty.”
The Broome-Taiji sister-city ties officially began in 1981; however, historic ties between the two towns date back to the early 1900s, when Japan became instrumental in laying the foundations of Broome’s pearling industry.