Fishermen kill 30 more dolphins in Taiji

2014-01-23 09:00
Japanese fishermen have finished killing some of the 250 dolphins trapped recently in what activists say was the biggest roundup they have witnessed in the last four years. (Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, AP)

Japanese fishermen have finished killing some of the 250 dolphins trapped recently in what activists say was the biggest roundup they have witnessed in the last four years. (Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, AP)

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Caroline Kennedy calls dolphin hunt inhumane

2014-01-21 12:01

US ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy has called the annual Japanese dolphin hunt inhumane, despite government defending the hunt as a tradition.WATCH

Tokyo - Fishermen in the small Japanese town of Taiji killed more than two dozen striped dolphins on Thursday, campaigners said, as global outrage over the slaughter grows.

Activists from the militant environmentalist group Sea Shepherd said the hunters were herding the animals into a screened-off area because they wanted to hide what they were doing.

"They continue to use tarps to cover the slaughter, and physically drive the pod under the tarps... to avoid cameras," Melissa Sehgal said by telephone from Taiji.

"You can hear the dolphins splashing below," she said, as the fishermen stab a metal spike into their spinal cords.

"It was approximately 30 dolphins - striped dolphins - that were all slaughtered this morning."

Boats search the open ocean off Japan's Pacific coast for pods of dolphins. When a group is located the fishermen drive them toward the cove by banging on submerged metal poles attached to their boat.

Dolphin sale

This creates a sonar wall from which they flee. By positioning several boats in an arc, the hunters can funnel the creatures into a small bay. Once there, nets are strung across the mouth of the cove to prevent the dolphins' escape.

Activists say the pod can be kept there for several days while some of the more attractive dolphins are selected for sale to aquariums and dolphinariums, who are prepared to pay handsomely for a prime specimen.

Many of the rest are killed for their meat, which features in the diets of a small number of coastal communities in rural Japan. It is not widely consumed and the Japanese government recommends limiting intake because of the high levels of mercury it contains.

"Over 1 200 dolphins have been driven into the cove since 1 September, when the season began," Sehgal said. "Of those 1 200, over 600 dolphins have been slaughtered, not including today, and 149 have been taken captive."

The hunting season in Taiji is to go on until the end of February, according to an official of the local fishermen's association.

Local defenders of the hunt say it is a tradition and point out that the animals it targets are not endangered. They say Western objections are hypocritical and ignore the vastly larger number of cows, pigs and sheep butchered to satisfy demand elsewhere.

They also insist the methods they use are humane and say they screen off the killing area for the same reasons that abattoirs do not advertise the slaughter of mammals.
Read more on:    marine life

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