On September 9th, the cove of Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture, Japan, turned bright red. Despite growing international condemnation, Japan carried out its annual dolphin slaughter. On this day, a pod of 21 young short-finned pilot whales was slaughtered while 3 others were captured to face a life of imprisonment.
The hunting method of rounding up dolphins and pilot whales in the cove, before selecting the prettiest for sale and killing the rest by stabbing with harpoons, is called “drive hunting.” This method is internationally criticized for its outrageous cruelty. Japan claims that the dolphin hunt is a widely practiced local tradition; however, this is just an excuse. In reality, the entire purpose of this infamous activity is to export “display” dolphins overseas for money; it’s all about the “dolphin business.”
Even now, animal activists protest outside Japanese embassies around the world to stop the dolphin hunt. In 2015, the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) decided to officially ban its members from acquiring captured dolphins from the Taiji dolphin hunt.
However, Japan still continues to ignore the international outcry and allows the hunt every year. This year, Japan has authorized a total of 1940 dolphins to be hunted—100 more than last year.
The South Korean government is not free from the responsibility of supporting Japan’s dolphin massacre. Along with China and Russia, South Korea is one of the biggest importers of dolphins from the Taiji hunt. According to Ministry of Finance in Japan, South Korea has imported 35 out of the 354 dolphins exported by the Japanese government since May 2009. Consequently, it ranks as the third largest importer of dolphins.
The Ministry of Environment of South Korea not only remains silent and takes no action against the rising popularity of dolphin aquaria and entertainment venues, but also recklessly grants import licenses.
The ministry should immediately ban the importation of cetaceans, ban the construction of new cetacean aquaria, and outlaw the captive breeding of cetacean species. Furthermore, it should endeavour to distance itself from any association with Japan’s annual dolphin hunt, and implement policies to protect at risk cetacean species in its territorial waters.
Furthermore, we, Hotpink Dolphins, Korea Animal Rights Advocates, ‘Animal Welfare Awareness, Research and Education’, Action for Animals, Sea Shepherd Korea, Animal Life Busan, and Korea Animal Welfare Association, as well as other animal welfare organizations around the world are calling upon the Japanese government to take heed of growing public opinion and stop the annual massacre of dolphins and pilot whales, and implement protections from all forms of hunting for these highly intelligent animals.