Sunday 01 April 2012

New threat to the dolphins of Taiji

The mayor of Taiji- the location of a seasonal Japanese “Oikomi” or drive fishery that kills hundreds of small cetaceans each year – recently announced a new plan to exploit the marine mammals unfortunate enough to swim through local waters.

The proposal calls for closing of a large area at the southern end of Moriura Bay to create a permanent “whale ranch”.

The annual Taiji hunt has been the focus of international concern and protest for more than two decades, most recently in the form of the award winning documentary “The Cove”. Species killed include bottlenose, spotted, Risso’s, Pacific white-sided and striped dolphins as well as false killer and short-finned pilot whales.

In addition to the cetaceans that are cruelly rounded up and butchered, many survive the shocking spectacle only to be captured and sold to theme parks in countries like Japan, China, the Philippines, South Korea,Republic of Georgia and Tunisia.

The proposed dolphin ranch will promote swimming, kayaking and other “frolicking” with the trapped animals.  And in an echo of Japan’s relentless whaling programs in the North Pacific and Antarctic oceans, the dolphin ranch will also support “scientific research”.

It is expected that the plan will require significant government funding. And even if it goes ahead, there is no sign that other, free-swimming small cetaceans will be spared the horror of the Oikomi.


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