The Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums (Jaza) has bowed to international pressure and agreed to stop buying dolphins captured in the province of Taiji, a place now infamous for its horrid dolphin cull.
The vote was a result of an ultimatum imposed by the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (Waza), in which Jaza could either boycott Taiji’s market or stop being a part of the largest zoo and aquarium association in the world. Breaking from Waza would limit Japan’s zoos and aquariums’ access to acquiring other new and exotic species so on Wednesday, a majority of its members voted for a ban on buying any more of Taiji’s dolphins.
“We are absolutely delighted to hear Japan’s peak zoo body has voted to uphold international animal welfare standards and stop purchasing Taiji dolphins,” stated Sarah Lucas, the chief executive of the group Australia for Dolphins, which initially sued Waza in a class action alleging that the organization was complicit in the dolphin slaughter by ignoring the fact that one of its members, Jaza, contributed to it.
The lawsuit led to Waza issuing a request on April 22 to Jaza that they stop purchasing Taiji dolphins. When the request was ignored, the ultimatum was issued threatening its expulsion.
“This momentous decision marks the beginning of the end for dolphin hunting in Japan,” said Lucas. “The capture of live dolphins, which sell for up to $100,000, is the motivation for the brutal dolphin hunts in Taiji. This decision, which stops Japanese aquariums demanding more Taiji dolphins, is a huge blow to the hunts.”
While Taiji has become widely known and condemned around the world for the slaughter of thousands of dolphins that are sold for their meat for about $100 each, some of the trapped dolphins are sold to zoos and aquariums for up to $100,000 each, providing the involved fishermen with a nice income.
“Jaza aquariums provide up to 40% of total demand for live dolphins from Taiji,” explained Lucas. “So, as of today, the market for Taiji dolphins could be nearly cut in half. Without demand, the hunts won’t continue. It is the first major step towards ending the Taiji dolphin hunts once and for all.”
Before the vote, the governor of Wakayama prefecture where Taiji is located, Yoshinobu Nisaka, defended the town’s practices and called the need for a vote part of “bullying from all over the world.” The chief cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, added that what is done in Taiji is “a sustainable fishing [method] under appropriate control by the government with scientific foundations, and carried out carefully so that dolphins are not hurt”.
Considering that in the last five years alone, an estimated 5,000 dolphins were killed and 750 captured and sold to zoos and aquariums in the most violent and bloody way shown in the documentary, ‘The Cove’, we disagree.