Japan’s highly controversial annual dolphin slaughter, held in the waters by the town of Taiji, has officially begun. It is expected to last six months and will result in hundreds of dolphins being herded into a cove and butchered.
A local official of the Taiji fisheries association, talking to AFP, has stated that despite poor weather, “The dolphin hunting season started today and will last until the end of February,” alongside the hunting of pilot whales, which will last until April. Environmental campaigners are also present at the site, confirmed the official.
Last year, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) streamed live updates from the cove, reporting, “This now massive pod of more than 250 dolphins includes babies and juveniles, including a rare albino calf who has been clinging as closely as possible to his or her mother in the stress and panic of the drive hunt.
“If not killed, the albino will most certainly be taken as a novelty for Taiji’s local marine park attractions.”
The annual catch is led by locals, and was condemned earlier this year by a US diplomat, who added in a tweet, that she was “deeply concerned” and that the “US government opposes drive hunt fisheries.”
The controversial practice was exposed in 2009 by the Oscar winning documentary The Cove, which filmed the entire ordeal.
Defenders of the practice believe it to be an important tradition, a stance supported by the Japanese government. Advocates also believe it to be hypocritical of western criticisers to campaign against them, when so many pigs and cows are slaughtered for food in the west.
Photo source: Campaign Whale via flickr