As another dolphin hunting season draws to a close in the small town of Taiji, I’m filled with a mixture of emotions.
Relief, because the dolphins around Japan’s coast will be given a few months’ respite. But sadness, too, for all the hundreds of dolphins slaughtered and taken captive. If nothing is done, the hunts begin again in September.
You may have heard about Taiji by watching The Cove, an Oscar winning documentary which details the awful dolphin hunts and lifted them from obscurity to the international spotlight. I first heard from my friend Dave Rastovich and was moved to journey to Japan, Taiji, to witness first hand in hopes to raise awareness for change.
But despite the barrage of criticism towards the Japanese government and small steps of progress, little has actually changed.
Many people have spoken out about Japan’s hunts, including Caroline Kennedy and Yoko Ono. In 2015, when the world’s peak zoo and aquarium organization came out strongly against the Taiji hunts, more than sixty Japanese aquariums stopped purchasing dolphins. This was the first real positive shift in decades.
The simple truth is that when it comes to Taiji, U.S. companies and organizations have blood on their hands. Until this complicity ends, the hunts will continue.
Many people mistakenly blame the Japanese people for the hunts. But the dolphin hunts are not part of Japanese culture. Nor are the dolphins primarily hunted for meat. The reason the hunts started – and continue today – is because marine parks and aquariums buy the dolphins for thousands of dollars. Without this lucrative incentive, the hunts would cease.
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