An international consortium of environmental organizations*, fighting to end the world's largest dolphin slaughter in Japan, has obtained an internal memo prepared by the Japan Cetacean Conference on Zoological Gardens and Aquariums to its member aquariums soliciting buyers for dolphins that form part of the annual slaughter.
"For years we have said that the aquarium industry is subsidizing the violent slaughter of thousands of dolphins in Taiji and other fishing villages in Japan," stated Muriel Arnal, Director of One Voice, a leading French animal welfare organization. "Now we have direct proof with this memo from the Conference to its member aquariums soliciting buyers for dolphins."
"In a key part of the memo," says Richard O'Barry, former trainer of TV star Flipper and marine mammal specialist for One Voice, "the Conference encourages its member aquariums to request even more dolphins that are currently not available due to permit restrictions."
Fishermen herd dolphin pods into shallow waters, where thousands are annually slaughtered for meat. But the aquarium industry subsidizes the slaughter by offering thousands of dollars to buy a few prime specimens of dolphins from the shallow waters of the blood-filled slaughter pools. Without these enormous prices for prime specimens, the Japan dolphin fishery would collapse.
The memo was prepared by Senzo Uchida, Executive Secretary of the Japan Cetacean Conference on Zoological Gardens and Aquariums and sent to the directors of aquariums that are members of the Conference. The memo outlines a meeting held by representatives of the Conference and the drive fishermen at Taiji. It states in part (English translation):
"...for the purposes of continued cetacean capture and stable supply, it is necessary to have frank expressions of opinion from fishers involved in dolphin drive fisheries and from aquariums needing cetaceans."
"Currently when dolphins are captured in drive fisheries, they are sorted live to select individuals for captivity, after which the rest are all used for meat."
"Pacific striped dolphins cannot be taken in drive fisheries at Taiji because no permits have been granted. However, if the capture of this species at Taiji were to become possible, this would benefit fishers and the aquariums which keep cetaceans...Applying for a permit to capture a new cetacean species at Taiji would require that there is a need. Accordingly, from the perspective of exhibiting cetaceans for educational purposes, we would like to perform a questionnaire survey to determine the extent to which aquariums participating in the Cetacean Conference want Pacific striped dolphins, and then use the results to justify applying for a permit to capture them at Taiji."
A copy of the original memo in Japanese and an English translation are attached to this press release.
Muriel Arnal concluded: "The aquarium industry throughout the world has used the Japanese drive fisheries to catch traumatized dolphins for their exhibits. The public, including the people of Japan, would be outraged if they knew the truth -- that thousands of innocent dolphins die a horrible death so that a few can be shown doing tricks in aquariums. The drive fishery and the slaughter must be stopped, and the aquarium industry must be held accountable for the continuing killing of thousands of dolphins annually."
* The campaign to stop the dolphin slaughter is a joint project of One Voice-France, Elsa Nature Conservancy - Japan and the International Marine Mammal Project of Earth Island Institute.
For further information, visit http://www.saveTaijiDolphins.org