WAZA and JAZA to Meet in Japan Ahead of Upcoming Drive Hunt Season

Responding to the collective voice of over 168 Japanese animal welfare and conservation organizations, the Executive Director of the World Association of Zoos and Aquaria (WAZA) has agreed to meet with representatives from these organizations in a joint meeting with leadership of the Japan Association of Zoos and Aquaria (JAZA) on August 10th in Japan. The groups presented their letter and petition seeking more action from WAZA against the dolphin drive hunts in late March in Switzerland where a key representative from Elsa Nature Conservancy met with WAZA officials during a protest held at WAZA headquarters in Geneva. This important meeting resulted in WAZA Executive Director Gerald Dick’s commitment to hold a follow-up meeting in Japan, inviting JAZA leadership and representatives from a coalition of Japanese organizations.

WDC, along with 45 other international animal welfare and conservation organizations, also sent a letter to WAZA seeking their definitive action in late February, and supporting the call for action made by Japanese animal welfare and conservation organizations. 

Although WAZA has made statements against the dolphin drive hunts, and has indicated that all WAZA-member facilities must adhere to the WAZA code of ethics and refrain from aquiring dolphins from these cruel hunts for captive dolphin attractions, the zoo and aquaria association has done little to reprimand or penalize those member facilities that continue to source dolphins from these hunts. JAZA is a member of WAZA, and member facilities of JAZA continue to acquire dolphins from these hunts. A recent inventory of captive dolphin facilities in Japan, supported by WDC, reveals that of the 104 aquaria in Japan, 67 are JAZA members, and 37 of those members hold dolphins. This means that 55% of JAZA facilities hold dolphins acquired from the dolphin drive hunts. The insidious and continuing relationship between the demand generated by captive facilities and the deadly drive hunts was documented in our Driven by Demand campaign report

One of these JAZA members is the Taiji Whale Museum, the primary broker of dolphins to national and international facilities. Despite strong statements against the drive hunts, WAZA has failed to reprimand the ongoing violations of its ethical policies by its members organizations. A video statement from these Japanese organizations, represented by Elsa Nature Conservancy, emphasizes the fact that the mechanized and commercial dolphin drive hunts are not a traditional part of Japanese culture, and rather have developed only more recently in the past 45 years. A Japanese version of this video statement is also available. WAZA's lack of clear and definitive action against those member facilities still acquiring from the drive hunts has resulted in more than 1,200 dolphins being caught alive and sent to aquariums since WAZA’s announcement against the drive hunts in 2004.

WDC has maintained its dialogue with WAZA since before the statements against the drive hunts were issued in 2004, and has condemned the concessions that WAZA has attempted to broker with JAZA in order to keep them under their association umbrella and avoid punitive action against the Japanese zoo association. One of these concessions was the issuance of the Dolphin Management Protocol which has allowed captive facilities to round up bottlenose dolphins in the month of September in the killing cove as long as the fishermen refrain from killing this species. At the time this protocol was issued, the suggestion was that animals would not be taken from the Taiji drive hunts but from a separate 'herding exercise' as a means of acquisition of wild dolphins for aquariums, and that more humane methods would reportedly be developed for these additional captures. Although these additional captures have not been documented, round-ups still occur in the killing cove, in close association with the drive hunts.  With no cessation of the killing activity, numbers of dolphins collected alive each season for captive facilities have actually increased since this protocol was agreed between WAZA and JAZA.

In hearing from the voices within Japan, and in meeting directly with JAZA leadership, we hope that WAZA will take tangible action to penalize those facilities that continue to source from the dolphin drive hunts in violation of WAZA policies and mandates. In its failure to comply, JAZA should be expelled from WAZA membership as they continue to be a 'black mark' on all other WAZA facilities that are complying with the Code of Ethics and find any association with the dolphin drive hunts abhorrent.

September signals the beginning of yet another dolphin drive hunting season in Taiji. The hunts begin on September 1st and will run through April or beyond. WDC has been active on confronting the dolphin drive hunt issue in Japan on various levels, both through direct action and onsite presence, to supporting educational outreach through partner Japanese organizations such as Elsa Nature Conservancy, and the initiation of dialogue with the zoo and aquaria associations engaged in sourcing from the drive hunts. We also have worked with the marine mammal research community to garner a statement against the drive hunts and open the dialogue in scientific fora. Among other efforts, WDC also helped procure a congressional resolution against the drive hunts, and has worked to expose the cruel killing methods being utilized in Taiji.

WDC will continue our work to foster the love and appreciation for whales and dolphins that can be found within Japan, supporting this growing public sentiment that may ultimately be the reason the Government of Japan will abandon these cruel and unsustainable practices.

Alongside our efforts, many individuals are working to end these horrific hunts, including a host of impassioned grassroots activists that are working to raise awareness and activate the global community. One of these initiatives is the Red Letter Campaign. This effort, started by one activist who is now joined by thousands around the world, seeks to generate a wave of letters to Japanese officials, sent in red envelopes on August 15th, and calling for an end to the dolphin drive hunts in Japan. Please join with your letters of support!

Stay tuned for more details of another grassroots initiative that you can take part in to help in our efforts to end the dolphin drive hunts—Japan Dolphin Day. Global demonstrations will occur around the world on, or near, September 1st. WDC will again be participating in this event, and hope that our supporters can join us in one of our international locations. More information to come!


This drive hunt is outdated and unnecessary. Killing innocent dolphins is creul and selling the meat is dangerous to the public. Do the research. Leave them to migrate as they do every year.

These dolphin drives should be stopped. Can we not name zoo's and aquariums that belong to waza, and put pressure on them to put pressure on waza.

David Rogers,

That's exactly why I organised the Gland demonstration and meeting in March which Ric O'Barry attended, where I requested Dr. Dick and his lawyer to travel to Tokyo to meet Kazutoshi Arai of JAZA, Sakae Hemmi of ELSA and her colleagues at the summit, this Sunday from 2 to 5pm local time...

To Daniel Jost: You did a great job organizing the demo at WAZA headquarters, and the meeting with Gerald Dick and his lawyer afterward. We need to thank all of the NGOs who publicized and supported the WAZA protest. Most especially those groups who actually showed up to protest that day. This important meeting between WAZA, JAZA and the coalition of Japanese animal welfare organizations is a result of the successful demo. Thank you Daniel Jost, Sakae, Sigi, Hans Oeter, and everyone else who actually showed up. It's all about showing up.

Dearest Ric,

Let me once again reiterate what a tremendous honour and pleasure it is to fight this noble combat with such a terrific team! NGOs like OceanCare generously sponsoring the cause, or WDC picking up the story with this article, and all these lovely people showing up time after time at events and voicing their opinion in person and online is in itself already so rewarding...

RIP to the beautiful creatures that get caught up in another species stupid game of greed..also, RIP and get well to the humans who've gotten sick from the mercury from eatting dolphin meat. This madness needs to stop.

Nice to see the consequences of our Gland demo and thanks for picking up this story!;-)

Am pleased to hear of this progress. And, in a perfect world there would not even be a need for WAZA; there would be no animals in captivity. Instead there would just be rescue, rehab and sanctuary for those who cannot be released. . .

These drive hunts are outdated and unnecessary. It is not tradition is just pure money driven slaughter and needs to stop now. The ones that survive spent they live in cruely and inadequate conditions for people to tease and taught stupid tricks.

Japón tiene que hacerse responsable de las enfermedades humanas por el mercurio o parar la venta de carne contaminada,tambien tiene que responder por el cambio del color de las aguas, la sangre con mercurio de los cetáceos es otra via de enfemedad que están liberando en los mares ,si esto no se detiene no sera recomendable nadar ni practicar ningún deporte acuático o buzeo porque el mercurio tambien entra por los poros de los bañistas además del daño que están cometiendo a toda la vida marina por negocios momentáneos.

WAZA is just going through the motions. It's all talk!!!

Sadly, I tend to agree with your assessment. I hope, really hope, that we are wrong, and that WAZA will do something to force the Japanese government to bring in and enforce a ban on cetacean drive hunting. It is not only at Taiji the horror continues, but also elsewhere in Japan.

Mike Bosworth,

WAZA unfortunately has no power over the Japanese government, but they do have power over their own member association JAZA. Hierarchy in Japanese society is very powerful and that's why we have worked so hard on WAZA. The key to bankrupting the Taiji genocide by phasing out the live captures lies with them, here in Switzerland - not in Taiji. If JAZA were to be reprimanded over violating WAZA's Code of Ethics (http://www.waza.org/files/webcontent/1.public_site/5.conservation/code_o...), it would be a loss of face to them and would damage their image.


WAZA has talked a lot in the past and walked very little, but now their Executive Director Dr. Gerald Dick and WAZA's lawyer Attorney Lorenz Ehrler are in Tokyo for the August 10 summit. That in itself is already quite telling and significant...

A bunch of common criminals in Taiji moraly bankrupt the name of a beautiful country as Japan is.
The world is disgusted, please act !

Drive hunt fishing dishonours Japan in the world's eyes.

A great article, but let us not be afraid to mention names: first and foremost the living legend Sakae Hemmi of ELSA Nature Conservancy, the first person ever to have filmed the Taiji genocide together with Larry Curtis a long long time ago, before anybody even knew this was going on...

And Kazutoshi Arai of JAZA, who will be meeting his Shacho - or boss from WAZA Dr. Gerald Dick in just a few hours.

Thank-you Daniel for organizing the earlier meeting with WAZA that precipitated this meeting. Sakae Hemmi of ELSA Nature Conservancy is of Japan and I believe the force needed to end the capture and slaughter fueled by the captive industry.

Thank you as well dear Kirsten for your support all along;-) I shall never forget the evening Ric gave his speech at Temple University in Tokyo with Izumi Ishii. The wonderfully wise man had the ingeniousness of asking Sakae Hemmi to attend the Gland demo - as she was present that evening - and to ask his friend Sigi Lüber of OceanCare to sponsor her trip, which they generously did! :-)

I agree with "LL" above. Japan should feel deep shame for their useless greedy killing of amazing creatures that have out-evolved humans for millions of years, with perfect designs for their environments and the brains to match. Unfortunately, many trust humans too much. Trusting the Japanese in this case, results in death by sharp blade. What would Buddah say? Cheers to Sakae Hemmi and Larry Curtis for telling the world!

"WAZA has failed to reprimand the ongoing violations of its ethical policies by its members organizations..." If not now, when? The World is watching.

There is absolutely no need for the hunt other than money. Its not tradition, traditional whalers wouldn't kill like this! Its not because Taiji is isolated as it used to be and whales were a source of protein as Taiji isn't isolated anymore. It is purely to feed the dolphinarium trade. Everyone who buys a ticket to an aquarium is as guilty of fueling this as the slaughters themselves.

Please end the drives.....we now know better,captivity is cruel & inhumane.
As well as killing them for food.....
Please spare them and protect them!

Please stop the killing and capture of cetaceans it is bringing great shame to your country. You can do better.

Stoppt das sinnlose abschlachten der delfine