By Ric O’Barry
In Taiji, we have now confirmed that none of the fishermen’s “banger boats” that are used to herd dolphins into the Cove were harmed by the tsunami. While a tsunami hit the harbor, the boats were not damaged. Two larger catcher vessels for whales, the kind with harpoon guns on the bows, were also unharmed, and have now gone north to Hokkaido to engage in whaling of coastal minke whales for Japan’s bogus “research” whaling.
Our team in Japan this week checked with the Japan Fisheries Agency about the quotas for next season’s dolphin hunts in Taiji. Quotas have not yet been issued for Taiji and won’t be until June. That annual hunt starts Sept. 1st.
But we can get an idea of the carnage expected from last year’s quotas, issued for August 2010 through July 2011 for the Taiji drive hunts:
134 Pacific white-sided dolphins
450 Striped dolphins
700 Bottlenose dolphins
400 Spotted dolphins
280 Risso’s dolphins
207 Pilot whales
70 False killer whales
2,241 dolphins total quota in Taiji
These quotas are extremely controversial. These quotas easily exceed the actual kill of dolphins each year, making them meaningless from a conservation standpoint.
The International Whaling Commission’s Scientific Committee has repeatedly condemned the hunts for Dall’s porpoise off Japan’s northern coast, asking Japan repeatedly to justify the high quotas they issue each year. A staggering near one-half million Dall’s porpoises have been slaughtered in Japan since the IWC agreed to the moratorium on commercial whaling in 1982. Japan has refused to give the IWC Scientific Committee or the full IWC any information to support these huge hunt quotas, claiming it is none of the IWC’s business because these are small cetaceans, not large ones.
But as I’ve said, size doesn’t matter! A whale is a dolphin is a porpoise, and all should be protected equally. There is no excuse for Japan to issue permits exceeding the “safe” levels of hunting these animals.
As we also know, Dolphin Project’s Campaign and other organizations have shown for years that dolphin meat is highly contaminated with toxic pollutants, including poisonous mercury levels far exceeding so-called “safe” levels. The Japan government and the health authorities are ignoring the problem of mercury contamination.
No one should be eating the meat of these dolphins and small whales.
We should also remember that the quotas include dolphins captured for aquariums and swim-with-dolphins programs around the world, too. The trade in Blood Dolphins helps subsidize the slaughter of these wonderful animals. Don’t fall for the hype of marine parks and dolphinariums; don’t buy a ticket!