The dolphin drive hunt season has begun in Japan. On September 7th, approximately 20-25 pilot whales were driven into the killing cove in Taiji.
The hunt will continue through next spring with catch limits determined by the central government and allowed through permits issued by the Wakayama prefectural governor. Because of growing tensions on the ground in Taiji, Wakayama police have established a temporary station near the netted bay, while the Coast Guard has sent officers to monitor the hunts. According to news reports , 3 pilot whales were taken into captivity, and the rest were slaughtered the next day on September 8th.
Dolphin drive hunts, also known as the ‘drive fisheries,’ occur annually from September through April of each year in the coastal town of Taiji. The town of Futo also maintains a quota to conduct the drive hunts, but has not done so since 2004. During these hunts, dolphins are encircled by motorboats out at sea and are then chased and corralled into shallow waters where they are trapped with nets, dragged beneath tarpaulins, and then killed or hauled off live to be sold into captivity. Every aspect of the hunt is extremely cruel, from the exhausting drive from the open ocean that can separate mothers and calves and other family groups, to confinement in a netted cove where the dolphins are crudely slaughtered. More recently, the award-winning documentary, The Cove, has raised worldwide consciousness to this practice.
Killed for their meat, or as a form of ‘pest control’ where dolphins are considered competitors with local fisheries, the dolphins are often held for days before slaughter utilizing methods that do not meet even minimum international standards of care. Last year, nearly 1000 dolphins were killed in the drive hunts. In 2010, 1276 were killed.