Taiji dolphin slaughter and one small organisation’s work to end it


The 2018 Taiji dolphin hunting season has started.

The hunters in action. Photo credit: Elsa Nature Conservancy.

Every year from September to March in a small town in Japan, wild dolphins are slaughtered for their meat. The hunters head out to sea, and once they locate a pod they place large metal poles into the water and bang on them. This creates a wall of sound that terrifies the dolphins, who become disoriented and confused and swim quickly away from the noise.

Dolphin meat for sale in a Japanese supermarket. Image credit Joseph Tame, CC BY-SA 3.0.

The hunters herd the dolphins into a cove by the shore and net it off so they can’t escape. These ‘drive hunt’ methods can last for hours, and many dolphins will die from cardiac arrest or drown in the process.

The dolphins are left overnight in the cove. The following morning dolphin trainers from around the world hand-select the “best looking” dolphins. They sell for thousands of dollars to marine parks, where they spend the rest of their lives performing tricks in swimming pools.

Those who are not hand-selected for a life in captivity are stabbed to death for their meat. The method used to kill the dolphins is brutal. The water turns red with blood.

Action for Dolphins (AFD) is a small not-for profit organisation that started in Australia. We have been working tirelessly since 2012 to end the hunts. Thanks to our supporters, we have made some significant headway.

In 2015, AFD launched legal action against the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA), whose Japanese member association contained aquariums that purchased dolphins from the hunts. Within a month, the Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums (JAZA) agreed to stop 62 Japanese aquariums from purchasing dolphins captured in Taiji.

In 2017, AFD’s lawyers launched a world-first Freedom of Information request, gaining access to never-before-seen documents. Since then AFD has worked around the clock to use this information in a bold new legal action to stop the hunts, to be brought as soon as possible.

This dynamic new legal action comes off the back of a campaign to expose the Taiji dolphin hunts to Japanese people. In 2017 AFD launched billboards showing graphic footage of the hunts in Japan for the first time ever. The ads played to hundreds of thousands of people above busy intersections in Osaka and Tokyo, exposing many Japanese people to the truth for the first time.

There is immense international pressure on Taiji officials to ban the cruel practice of dolphin hunting, and we must keep up momentum. This is why AFD is currently championing a petition urging Yoshinobu Nisaka,  Governor of Wakayama, Japan, not to authorise the hunts to continue. Nisaka is the person in charge of authorising the dolphin hunts; with the stroke of his pen, he determines the fate of many dolphins who are now swimming free near Taiji.

Please, add your voice to the petition now to help bring an end to these cruel dolphin hunts, and choose not to visit dolphins in captivity.

Featured image: A dolphin struggles for their life in a hunter’s net. Image credit: Oceanic Preservation Society.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

About Author

Action for Dolphins is an Australian organization working to stop cruelty to, and gain legal protection for, small cetaceans (dolphins and other small whales). Click to see author's profile.

1 Comment

Leave A Reply