The controversial annual dolphin hunt begins in Taiji, Japan today. The killings were the focus of the Academy award-winning documentary The Cove.
“September 1 is the start of an annual drive hunt, in which Japanese fishermen use the dolphin’s sonar as a means to capture them in the cove and cull them,” says Nicola Harris, dolphin campaigner.
“23,000 dolphins and porpoises are killed annually in Japan… [today] is an important day for dolphins because it is part of a annual migrational course in which they pass the beautiful beaches of Taiji.”
Harris explains that today “dolphin lovers and members of environmental organisations gather to spread awareness of this drive and the disgusting and inhumane way they are slaughtered”. Harris is organising the Dolphin Day event in Perth today, but there are events happening around the world – including in Sydney and Melbourne. Click here for more info.
Many organisations worldwide are opposed to the slaughter that takes place in Taiji, such as the Humane Society International (HSI). This morning, HSI-Australia told G magazine that they believe the actions in Taiji at this time of year are “brutally inhumane”.
The International Whaling Commission does not recognise or regulate the killing of small ocean mammals. Harris explains that this could be because “the Japanese have powers of persuasion within the International Whaling Commission that enable then continue the slaughters… Fishermen have told protesters in the past that the killings are a form of pest control”.
The slaughters are often referred to as part of Japanese culinary culture. However, very few Japanese people actually eat dolphin meat – possibly due to its high mercury content – so the meat is often sold labelled or unlabelled as whale meat. “Sometimes the meat is simply disposed of,” says Harris.
“Besides the fact that these animals are highly intelligent and have a long history of relations with human beings, Australians should be worried about the amount of damage killing off masses amounts of marine life does to the oceanic environment,” argues Harris.