The Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums (JAZA) has voted in favour of no longer using the Taiji dolphin hunts as a supply of dolphins for its marine parks. A majorty of the organization’s 153 members, of which 37 hold dolphins, supported the decision.
The announcement came a month after the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) suspended JAZA’s membership over the issue on the grounds that it was in breach of the organization’s ethical guidelines. Failure to comply could have led to JAZA being permanently excluded.
The decision could have a defining impact on the dolphin hunts as the supply of dolphins to the captivity industry is a major income generator for the fishermen involved in the hunts. JAZA-affiliated aquaria account for just under 70% of those holding dolphins in Japan. Many of the dolphins were sourced from Taiji.
WDC was one of the first to document the connection between the drive hunts and aquaria, and have spent over a decade engaged in dialogue with WAZA regarding its members’ association with these cruel hunts. JAZA’s decision to step away from the drive hunts as a source of live dolphins is a big step, and one that will hopefully contribute to an end to these hunts.
WDC anti captivity campaigner, Courtney Vail urges caution though. “We must still be concerned, however, with all wild captures, and as long as zoo and aquaria keep the door open for acquisition from the wild, dolphins will suffer. Many modern aquaria are committing to not sourcing from the wild at all, and that should be the goal.” (Read more in her blog).
Dolphins from Taiji are also supplied to aquaria in other countries around the world. Please support WDC’s campaign to end this trade.