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WDCS Joins Japan Dolphin Day 2012

Join WDCS as we condemn the hunting of dolphins and small whales in Japan.  Help end the practice known as “drive hunts” by urging Japan to stop the brutal treatment of these animals. 

On Friday August 31st, WDCS will join in a worldwide protest to denounce Japan’s annual slaughter of dolphins during the annual “Japan Dolphin Day.” The demonstrations will be held at Japanese embassies and consulates in hundreds of cities around the world. 

Join WDCS in Boston at the Consulate General of Japan at Federal Reserve Plaza, 600 Atlantic Avenue, from 6:30 to 8:30 PM for a candlelight vigil and peaceful protest and let your voices be heard. 

Japan Dolphins Day in London, UK
Updated 14 hours ago
Location: Embassy of Japan in the UK
101-104 Piccadilly, W1J 7JT
London, United Kingdom
Time: 12:00pm-3:00pm
Date: August 31, 2012
Organizer: Adam Filby, Lucy Byrne

Rest of the World
Find out where your local event is taking place at:

WDCS has also presented a letter asking for an end to these hunts to the Prime Minister of Japan, in addition to consulates in the UK, Germany, US, Argentina and Australia.

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 alive 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.

Some of the dolphins are selected alive for sale to marine parks worldwide.  During the 2010 and 2011 season, 281 dolphins were taken alive from the hunts and shipped to national and international destinations. WDCS exposed this growing connection between the zoo and aquarium industry and the drive hunts in its report, Driven by Demand . More recent shipments of dolphins from the Taiji hunts have been sent to Egypt, Ukraine, Armenia, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran and China.

“Obtaining dolphins in this manner for entertainment is not only a crime against nature, but also a betrayal of the public’s desire to protect these intelligent and special animals,” said Courtney Vail, campaigns manager for WDCS. “Facilities that source animals from these hunts are providing financial incentive for the continuation of some of the most brutal and heart-rending hunts on this planet.  The continuing association of captive facilities with these hunts is unfathomable.”

Over 2,000 dolphins and small whales may be killed annually in these drive hunts, including bottlenose, Risso’s, striped, and spotted dolphins and short-finned pilot and false killer whales. With specific quotas varying annually and allocated between drive, hand-held harpoon, and small-type coastal whaling hunts, up to 20,000 small whales and dolphins may be taken in these hunts along the coastline of Japan every year. The Dall’s porpoise hunt is the largest, with quotas exceeding over 17,000 Dall’s porpoise taken in hand-held harpoon hunts in northern Hokkaido in years past. The official quota for all small-cetacean hunts that may be killed in 2012-2013 is 17,217 dolphins of mixed species.

Many Japanese people are unaware that these hunts occur in their country.  Japan’s Fisheries Agency directs fishermen to hide evidence of the hunts from the public eye, erecting tarpaulins and tents behind which the dolphins are slaughtered.  Additionally, despite evidence that the dolphin meat from these hunts is heavily tainted with dangerous levels of mercury and poses a potential threat to human health, the Japanese government continues to promote the consumption of whale and dolphin meat.

WDCS opposes all killing of all whales, dolphins and porpoises in commercial hunts and continues its efforts to encourage the aquarium industry to end their association with the brutal dolphin drive hunts in Japan.  WDCS is also working with partners in Japan to develop and implement educational initiatives on the ground in Japan, and collaborate with the international marine mammal scientific community to encourage an end to these hunts.

What has WDCS been doing to stop the hunts?
Although protesters have been converging on Taiji since the international release of The Cove in June 2009, WDCS has been on the ground and has supported filmmaker Hardy Jones’ and others’ travel to Japan to document the hunts well before The Cove was released.  The movie subsequently won an Oscar for Best Documentary in March 2010 and has motivated a grassroots movement of international and Japanese visitors to the town in the hope of bearing witness and finding a solution to these extremely inhumane hunts.

WDCS has been active in confronting the hunts in Japan on a number of levels, from documenting and raising awareness of the hunts, to educational outreach and grassroots collaboration within Japan. We will continue our work on the ground in Taiji, and will not cease our diverse efforts to end these brutal drive hunts:
* WDCS continues its work within the marine mammal scientific community to garner public statements against these hunts, and helped secure a congressional resolution condemning the practice.
* WDCS worked to secure the acknowledgement by the public display industry regarding its complicity in fueling the dolphin drive hunts by providing financial support through their sourcing live dolphins either directly, or indirectly, from these hunts.
* WDCS supports educational campaigns within Japan to educate the public about whales and dolphins, their beauty, their biology and the threats that they face. More recently, we contributed to the development of the Beautiful Whale Project, an attempt to bring art, science and communities together in search of common ground in our appreciation for whales and dolphins.

Take Action!

Contact your nearby Japanese Consulate
Please contact the Japanese Consulate in Boston and Washington, DC to politely express your objections to the drive and other dolphin hunts that occur in Japan, and then show up at a peaceful protest near you! Rallies are being held worldwide, and across the US, and can be located here.

Please take a few minutes to contact Consul General Hikihara or Ambassador Fujisaki by politely explaining your opposition to these brutal dolphin drive hunts and urging the Japanese Government to stop the suffering. A sample letter is provided below.

Consulate-General of Japan
Consul General Takeshi Hikihara 
Federal Reserve Plaza, 22nd  Floor
600 Atlantic Ave,
Boston, MA 02210
Phone: Tel: (617) 973-9772
Fax: (617) 542-1329
Email: [email protected] and [email protected]

Embassy of Japan
Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki
2520 Massachusetts Ave., N.W.
Washington D.C. 20008-2869
E-mail: [email protected]  

Contact the Japanese Authorities
If you are unable to attend a protest in a nearby city, you can contact directly the Japanese  authorities responsible for overseeing this annual dolphin slaughter.  The sample letter below can be tailored with your special message.

The Prime Minister of Japan
Mr. Yoshihiko Noda, Prime Minister of Japan:
Fax: +81-3-3581-3883                    

Fisheries Agency of Japan
Mr. Masanori Sato, Director General of Japan Fisheries Agency
Fax: +81-3-3502-1682

Taiji Town Mayor
Mr. Kazutaka Sangen
Fax: +81-735-59-2801

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan
Mr. Masahiko Koumura

Sample Text:
Please help us stop the drive hunts in Japan

Dear  ________:

The dolphin drive hunts resume on September 1st, and I am alarmed by reports that up to 2,000 dolphins may be killed in these hunts this season. In addition, over 17,000 dolphins and porpoises may be brutally killed this year off the coast of Japan in other types of hunts.

Dolphin drive hunts
One method of hunting is the drive hunt, in which large groups of small whales and dolphins are rounded up using boats and driven towards the shore where they are trapped in a bay or cove using nets.  The animals are then killed in the shallows or dragged under tarpaulins and killed with crude methods. The hunt can take place over a number of days, with the animals trapped and frightened.  The entire process, from chase and round-up to slaughter, is brutal. In addition, Japanese consumers are being sold dolphin meat, which contains dangerously high levels of mercury and is often labeled as whale meat.

Fueled by the aquarium industry
A number of the dolphins that are captured during these hunts are kept alive and selected by aquariums and marine parks that pay large sums of money to display these animals in their facilities. Captivity is the financial backbone of the drive hunts and is increasingly becoming the motivating factor behind the continuation of these hunts. The dolphins taken alive are handled crudely, many dying of stress during the process or face shortened, impoverished lives in captivity.

Hand harpoon hunts
The Japanese hunt up to 17,000 Dall’s porpoise each year is the largest hunt of any whale, dolphin or porpoise species in the world. Hunters target mothers with calves, as the mothers will not leave their calves and are consequently slower and easier to catch.  The calves are left to die.

People in Japan are unaware of the hunts
Many Japanese people are unaware that these hunts occur in their country.  Japan’s Fisheries Agency directs fishermen to hide evidence of the hunts from the public eye, erecting tarpaulins and tents behind which the dolphins are slaughtered. 

Dolphins are wondrous creatures in many ways. Did you know that the bottlenose dolphin — like great apes and humans — can recognize itself in a mirror? Family bonds are extremely strong, and one dolphin will assist another who is ill, or in childbirth, or unable to care for her young. Today these sentient, caring creatures are very much in need of your immediate action.

I respectfully ask that the Japanese government end these hunts now.


What else can you do to help us stop the hunts?

1. Watch The Cove and the film “A Fall from Freedom”. These documentaries detail the realities behind the drive hunts, including the sourcing of live dolphins from them for captivity.  Invite your friends to view these films!
2. Do not attend marine parks and aquariums that hold whales and dolphins in captivity.
3. Please keep an eye on for updates.