Japan’s aquariums promised on Wednesday to stop acquiring dolphins captured in a gory hunt that was depicted in the Oscar-winning documentary named ‘The Cove’ and is the reason for outrage across the world.
The initiative by the Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums follows an outcome last month by the Swiss-based umbrella group World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA), to suspend the membership of the Japanese organization.
Taji hunt is considered ‘cruel’ by WAZA and passed an order that none of its members should get dolphins in such a manner.
In the hunt, the ‘civilized humans’ scare the dolphins with banging, lead them into a cove and then kill them for their meat. The ones who look good are sold to the aquariums.
In a letter to WAZA, the Japanese group, which comprises 89 zoos and 63 aquariums, said it would abide by WAZA’s decision.
“It is our wish at JAZA to remain as a member of WAZA,” chair Kazutoshi Arai said in a letter addressed to WAZA President Lee Ehmke.
The campaign against the Taiji hunt has drawn Hollywood stars as well as the anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd.
The latest move was welcomed by animal welfare groups.
“This momentous decision marks the beginning of the end for dolphin hunting in Japan,” said Sarah Lucas, the CEO of Australia for Dolphins. Officials in Taiji, a small fishing village in central Japan, and fishermen have defended the hunt as tradition, saying that eating dolphin meat is no different from eating beef or chicken.
Dolphins are a delicacy that most of the Japanese have never experienced and in fact, the Japanese dislike dolphin killing and have joined the campaign against the Taiji hunt.
“The Cove,” which won an Academy Award in 2009, focuses on veteran dolphin activist Ric O’Barry, who trained dolphins for the 1960s “Flipper” TV series before deciding to devote his life to protecting the mammals and keeping them in nature.
An argument is raised by groups such as Australia that dolphin meat does not sell at a very expensive rate to keep the hunts going, but they are sold to marine shows and aquariums for thousands of dollars.