Taiji Dolphin Slaughter Suspension Still in Effect
-- 70 Captured Dolphins Released
The town of Taiji, Japan, focus of the largest dolphin slaughter in the world as documented in the movie The Cove, has released about 70 captured dolphins without slaughtering any.
Reports indicate initiation of a new “non-slaughter” policy in response to intense international pressure to end the practice of killing dolphins and selling contaminated dolphin meat to Japanese consumers.
Normally, the hunting season begins on Sept. 1st, lasting through March. This year no captures or slaughter took place while a team led by Richard O’Barry for Save Japan Dolphins Coalition and media from around the world converged on Taiji.
Once the team left Taiji for Tokyo, reports surfaced that boats proceeded to capture “about 100” bottlenose dolphins (the same kind of dolphin featured in the 1960’s television show Flipper) and 50 pilot whales on Sept. 9th.
A representative of the Taiji Town Council indicated that some of the bottlenose dolphins would be retained to sell on the world market to aquariums.
However, in a new twist, instead of butchering the remaining dolphins for sale of meat, the town released 70 dolphins not selected for captivity over the weekend. Save Japan Dolphin Coalition representatives were on hand to confirm and film the release.
Richard O’Barry, Campaign Director of the Save Japan Dolphins Coalition, stated: “The world is watching. We call on the Japanese Fisheries Minister and the Taiji Town Council to make the non-slaughter policy permanent, and revoke all permits allowing capture and slaughter.”
He continued: “Stopping the slaughter and sale of dolphins would be a major victory for the people of Japan who risk eating mercury-laced dolphin meat, and of course the millions of people who have seen The Cove.”
David Phillips, Director of Earth Island Institute stated: “Our Coalition staff has been in Japan since day one of this year’s planned dolphin kill, and we’re staying. We will expand vigilance in Taiji, and bring greater world attention to ensure that the dolphins are released and that the slaughter does not resume. Ric O’Barry and his team will be back in Japan next week, joining our people who witnessed the release this weekend in Taiji.”
Added Dr. Elliot Katz, President of In Defense of Animals (IDA): “On behalf of the members of IDA, I congratulate Ric O’Barry, the members of the Save Japan Dolphins Coalition, and Cove Director Louie Psihoyos for taking us one step closer to ending the slaughter of these sensitive and intelligent animals.”
Stated Andy Ottaway, Director of Campaign Whale of the UK: “We are delighted that the fishermen of Taiji have suspended the dolphin slaughters for now. However, the slaughter of other whales is equally cruel and unacceptable and also carries the same toxic health threat to the people that eat them. We urge the fishermen of Taiji to show compassion and respect for international concern by releasing pilot whales and other cetaceans unharmed in the future.”
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The Save Japan Dolphins Coalition consists of Earth Island Institute, Elsa Nature Conservancy of Japan, Ocean Care, In Defense of Animals, Campaign Whale, and the Animal Welfare Institute.