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Japan Dolphin Slaughter Begins in Taiji; Cull Angers Activists

Thursday, 25 September 2014 07:35 PM

The slaughter of dolphins in Japan began last week in the town of Taiji, an annual and bloody cull that was the topic of the 2010 documentary "The Cove."

Activists from the environmentalist group Sea Shepherd have been monitoring a bay in Taiji, southwestern Japan, since the six-month dolphin hunting 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 last week.

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

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An official from the local fishermen's union also 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 on Sept. 1, and is expected to continue until the end of February.

Japan has set 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, where Taiji is located, quotas for local fishermen are set at a total of just under 2,000 short-finned pilot whales and false killer whales, and Pacific white-sided, striped, bottlenose, Pantropical spotted, and Risso's dolphins, according to the local government.

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

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

Japan also announced last week that it would resume its controversial whaling program after a forced year's hiatus due to an international whaling moratorium. A loophole allows for lethal scientific research, something Japan is repeatedly accused of exploiting, killing whales for commercial activity and not science.

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© AFP 2020

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The slaughter of dolphins in Japan began last week in the town of Taiji, an annual and bloody cull that was the topic of the 2010 documentary "The Cove."
japan, dolphin, slaughter, begins, taiji
Thursday, 25 September 2014 07:35 PM
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