On September 1st it is Japan Dolphin Day, it signals the beginning of another dolphin drive hunt season in Japan. This date has been set by animal protection and environmental organizations to create awareness on the horrible practice of drive hunting.
Drive huntings consists of herding dolphins at sea and driving them into the confines of a cove in Taiji, where they are slaughtered for meat or kept alive to be sold to marine parks across the globe. Every year cuotas are set well into the thousands (around 22,000 cetaceans) and over 400 boats are authorized to hunt them.
Every September small cetaceans of several species including bottlenose dolphins, striped dolphins, Risso’s dolphins, false killer whales and short-finned pilot whales, are killed or taken for captivity. In fact, more than 400,000 dolphins, porpoises and small whales have been killed in Japanese waters in the last 20 years. Studies show direct cause of these killings with a major decrease of small cetacean populations like the Bottlenose Dolphin and the Dall’s Porpoise. In fact, in 1992 the International Whaling Commission (IWC) strongly recommended an interim halt on all direct catches of striped dolphins, that were already considered extinct in certain areas.
Despite Commercial whaling being outlawed in 1986 dolphin hunts remain legal. In 1993, under international pressure, the Japanese Fisheries Agency began to set catch limits for small cetaceans, however the basis for the quotas are uncertain and the monitoring and enforcement is virtually non-existent. In December of 2018 Japan notified its decision to withdraw from the IWC in order to pursue commercial whaling again. This year's hunting season aims to kill 1,749 cetaceans, including 6 species of dolphin and 3 species of whale.
What can you do about this horrific practice?
Well, for starters, there are two petitions that you can sign; “take the pledge not to buy a ticket to a captive dolphin show” and never go to a water park with cetaceans in captivity again they are directly responsible for drive hunts, a fisherman make approximately 32,000 USD for an alive dolphin and trained captive dolphins can be sold for up to 250,000 USD. You can also sign “the petition to Japan’s Government Officials to end the hunts”. You can also support NGOs concerned with the cause and educate yourself. If you haven’t watched the film The Cove we recommend you do, it is a very well made documentary and it is very educational.