Taiji's Cetacean Kill
The Town of Taiji
Geographically, Taiji is located in south-eastern Japan within Wakayama Prefecture. Taiji is renowned for its scenic beauty and is a popular holiday destination in the summer. However, this picturesque town conceals a dark secret – the capture and killing of entire pods of dolphins and Pilot whales.
Evidence shows that whale and dolphin hunting has occurred in this part of Japan for centuries. However the dolphin drive hunts as it exists today only began in the late 1960s, just as the dolphinarium industry was beginning to boom around the world.
The fact that a practice has been carried out for many years does not make it right. The arguments of ‘culture’ and ‘tradition’ are no excuse for continuing a cruel hunt which illegal in most other countries around the world. Most countries that were once major whaling nations have since ended the practice. Iceland, Norway, the Danish Faroe Islands, and Japan continue to conduct large-scale commercial cetacean hunts.
Sea Shepherd is neither anti-Japanese nor opposed to any nation or group of people. We are against the killing of cetaceans, no matter the nationality of the hunters.
Taiji accounts for over 1,800 of the 16,000 cetaceans killed in Japan annually (depending on the exact quotas which are set annually). The annual dolphin drive-hunt season runs for six months, beginning on September 1 and typically running until early March of the following year. Whaling of larger cetaceans in coastal waters is then undertaken for the remaining six months of the year.
Every year the Taiji dolphin hunters request a catch limit they self-allocate with no scientific advice or consideration for sustainability Their annual quota is then confirmed and a permit is then issued by the office of the Governor of Wakayama Prefecture.
Most of the dolphins and small whales captured in the Taiji dolphin drive hunts are killed and the meat is sold for human consumption. The number of dolphins captured for the captive industry has risen substantially in recent years due to the growing international demand from dolphinariums and marine entertainment parks. As the demand for dolphin and whale meat drops, it is the highly profitable captive dolphin industry that sustains the Taiji hunt.
Respected scientists from around the world have repeatedly warned of the high levels of heavy metals and other industry derived contaminants bio-accumulated in cetacean meat from our polluted oceans, yet many residents in Taiji and nearby coastal communities eat the dolphin meat.
Taiji is a very small town and there are only around 28 people involved in Taiji’s dolphin hunts. Though there are many supporters of the drive hunts, there are also many people in Japan who oppose them but most of Japan’s population are totally unaware of what is happening in the Cove at Taiji.
Sea Shepherd is committed to documenting and reporting on the activities of Taiji’s infamous dolphin killing cove as well as shining a spotlight on the international captive trade that drives the hunts to apply worldwide pressure upon Japan to shut this atrocity down.