Annual dolphin hunt at Taiji: open letter to the prime minister of Japan

Dolphins swimming

Dolphins belong in the oceans. Image: Gavin Harrison

THOUSANDS of people worldwide joined mass protests outside Japanese embassies at the beginning of September to object to the start of the “killing season” for dolphins off the country’s coast. As they did so, one of the world’s leading activists against the annual dolphin “drives”, Ric O’Barry, was arrested, causing uproar among supporters.

It was the latest symptom of repeated clashes between Japanese authorities and demonstrators trying to disrupt the hunting at Taiji cove, now infamous for its annual killings.

Each year, up to 2,000 dolphins and pilot whales are rounded up and killed or captured between September 1 and the end of March.

Most are stabbed with a metal spike hammered into their backs, just below the blowhole, to sever their spinal cord; they take minutes of agony to die, before being cut up. Others, those deemed “pretty” – youngsters without wounds – are sold to marine parks around the world to spend the rest of their lives in captivity.

As the seas turn red with blood, other dolphins, trapped by hunters in the shallow water of the cove, witness their family members – with whom they have strong and complex bonds – being slaughtered.

Dolphin killing

Dolphin killing

The sights and sounds of pods of these intelligent, innocent, awesome creatures panicking and in extreme distress is enough to signal to us how wrong the hunt is.

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and its Cove Guardian volunteers say that in some areas of Japan, dolphins have been hunted to extinction, and this hunt threatens the very existence of migratory dolphin and whale populations.

I have looked at the scientific evidence surrounding the hunt, and at the arguments used by those in favour – including the charge of hypocrisy by the West – and I used my conclusions to write to the Japanese prime minster.

Please copy and also send or use it as a template. Read on and see the letter…

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