In news from Japan likely to cause uproar around the world, yesterday saw the small whaling town of Taiji in Wakayama Prefecture kick off its annual dolphin hunt.
Although a tradition dating back centuries, the practice came under the spotlight in 2009, when a documentary film titled ‘The Cove’ won an Academy award in the U.S. after highlighting the practice.
In the film, the town’s ‘drive-hunting’ method in which a fleet of fishing boats coral dolphins seen offshore into a small cove where locals are waiting to either kill or capture the animals, was depicted as cruel by a number of animal rights groups.
Yesterday’s hunt got underway just before 9 a.m. when four dolphins were captured, unharmed.
Dolphins without scars and still deemed young enough to train are typically caught and sold to aquariums around the world instead of being killed for food.
It is understood that each of the dolphins caught yesterday were to be sold to aquariums.
Speaking to local Japanese media, Yoshifumi Kai, of the Taiji Fishing Cooperative said “We got off to a wonderful start as we caught dolphins from day one.”
Japan has traditionally caught whales for centuries, but frequently finds itself at the center of anti-whaling criticism from western nations who the Japanese deem as hypocritical as little to no attention is ever paid to other nations including Canada Iceland, Norway, and the U.S. who all continue to catch whales for differing reasons.
The current hunt in the waters off Taiji meanwhile will continue until early 2021, with increased security in place provided by the Japanese Coast Guard, and local police to prevent disruptions to those taking part in the hunt.