Potential End of Dolphin-Hunting Season and Taiji Whale Ranch
With the exception of the slaughter of pilot whales, dolphin hunting in Taiji, Japan may be over for the season (Save Japan Dolphins). Don’t start cheering, yet; our work isn’t over. The slaughter will resume next September. But there is reason to be hopeful: The season usually continues until May, so the efforts to end dolphin killing in Taiji seems to be paying off. Finally. Further, demand in Japan for such mercury-contaminated meat has declined, and the numbers of dolphins killed each year have declined from about 20,000 to estimated 728-786 dolphins. While there is cause to celebrate this reduction in number, it still means that almost 1,000 dolphins are needlessly and cruelly being killed. Watch any video about the killings (for instance, below), and you will understand what I mean. As I have previously blogged (“Killing Taiji Dolphins is Anything But Painless“), these dolphins are subjected to absolute agony before finally being allowed to die in “peace”; they are first forced to watch their family being killed, and then they slowly suffocate and bleed to death. While reading about or even watching this may be difficult, think about how much harder it must be for them to suffer through it.
As Save Japan Dolphins pointed out in a blog post on March 1, the Taiji town fathers are getting desperate due to the decline in demand for dolphin meat. They have set in motion building plans for a “Petting Whale Farm,” where visitors will be able to interact with minke and pilot whales and dolphins. As documented by the Daily Yomiuri on February 27 (English translation):
“Because of the negative image of the drive hunt painted by the Academy Award winning US movie “The Cove,” there has been interference by foreign anti-whaling organizations.
The town Mayor Kazutaka Sangen said, “We see the unfavorable circumstances as our opportunity to promote our town because we have co-existed with whales for generations. We will turn Taiji into a national park and museum with a whale theme.”
Naomi A. Rose, Ph.D, who has studied and condemned the captivity of dolphins would have much to say on this topic. While the ‘whale ranch’ has been proposed to include an area around the park that is reserved as a “scientific research area” for researchers to observe the reproduction of the cetaceans in the bay, to advocate that this ranch would be built for the benefit of the cetaceans is a contradiction in itself. There are better alternatives, such as ecotourism.
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