By Ric O’Barry
We’ve continued to broaden our campaign in Taiji to address the captivity angle. In fact the focus of the effort in Taiji is more and more, in my mind, coming down to stopping the subsidy of the dolphin hunts by the captivity industry. That has become the prime story and the prime support for the hunt – the people who buy captive wild dolphins from Taiji for immense amounts of money.
The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) represents zoos and aquariums around the world, including in Japan. The Japan Association of Zoos and Aquariums (JAZA) is an affiliate of WAZA. And the Taiji Whale Museum and many of the aquariums that source dolphins from Taiji are also members of JAZA and WAZA.
WAZA has an “ethical statement”, several years old now, stating its members should not be involved in the Taiji dolphin hunts, but obviously this statement is completely ignored by JAZA and the Taiji Whale Museum, as well as other dolphinariums around the world.
A dead dolphin will bring about $500 to $600 in a market for its meat, but a trained captive dolphin from Taiji brings as much as $150,000 or more on the world market for blood dolphin$, the apt name my son Lincoln came up with for the captivity trade.
Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project joined with activists in supporting a demonstration in March in front of the WAZA headquarters in Gland, Switzerland. I joined Swiss and Japanese activists in meeting with the Executive Director of WAZA, Dr. Gerald Dick. Dr. Dick agreed to arrange a meeting with Japanese activists in Japan with the head of JAZA. The meeting is scheduled for this Sunday, August 10th in Japan.
It remains to be seen if anything positive will come from this meeting, but clearly WAZA, at least, is feeling the heat.
The Japanese delegation of environmental and animal welfare organizations will be led by Sakae Hemmi of the Elsa Nature Conservancy of Japan, our dear friend who has led the fight against dolphin hunts in Japan for many years. Several representatives of other organizations will join her. Dr. Dick of WAZA will be present. The new president of JAZA is Mr. Kazutoshi Arai, who is the president of Kamogawa Sea World, a large aquarium in Japan. While Kamogawa Sea World likely obtained Taiji dolphins in the past, they have not done so recently.
WAZA should stop making claims based on the false assertion that the dolphin hunts are somehow part of “Japanese culture.” This is just a lame excuse for the lucrative captures and killing to continue.
Instead WAZA and ALL its members should be condemning the dolphin hunts in no uncertain terms. If JAZA members continue to acquire dolphins from the drive hunts in Taiji, JAZA should be expelled from WAZA.
We wish Sakae and her colleagues success with the meeting.
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