Japan’s controversial and infamous dolphin hunting season is all set to start today according to a report by News24. The six month long state approved hunting season gives fishermen across the coast of Japan the right to hunt and kill dolphins at will. The fishing town of Taiji is however known to be the most notorious of the dolphin hunting fishing harbors. The town and its fisherman have been known to kill thousands of dolphins during the dolphin hunting season which lasts from September to April – every year.
An official from the Taiji fisheries association declared the dolphin hunting season open.
“The dolphin hunting season started today and will last until the end of February,” he said.
However, little hunting is expected to happen on Monday owing to bad weather.
As international pressure mounts on Japan to stop the practice, Japan has on its part bowed down to it by only curtailing the length of the season. This time round, fishermen would be allowed to hunt dolphins only until February – and not April, as observed during previous years.
Japanese fishermen consider the hunting of dolphins as part of their tradition and have been doing it for hundreds of years. The practice however was bought into international spotlight and subsequent condemnation after the release of a documentary called “Cove”. The film, released in 2010 went on to win an Oscar award and it helped bring the plight of dolphins living off the coast of Japan to limelight. Following the release of the film, there were demands to ban Japan from participating in the bid for the 2020 Summer Olympics.
During the dolphin hunting season, fishermen from Taiji are known to corral huge number of dolphins in to a secluded bay where they are butchered. Photographs of the practice have been released in the past and show the waters of the bay covered in the blood of the intelligent mammals. Environmentalists and animal activists have in the past managed to live broadcast the practice in the past as well. This was done by a group known as the “Cove Guardians” last year.
Most dolphins captured during the dolphin hunting season are killed for meat – while a lucky few are left alive to be sold to dolphinariums.
Defenders of dolphin hunting claim that the killing of these mammals is no different from killing of cows, pigs, sheep and other animals that is rampant in western countries. The Japanese government on its part also says that the hunted animals are not an endangered species either.
There have been protests against the practice of dolphin hunting from within Japan as well. A group of 30 people recently walked the streets of Tokyo calling for the practice to be stopped as it tarnishes the image of Japan in other countries.
Dolphins are highly intelligent species of marine mammals and belong to the family of whales. The mammal has been given the label of a “non-human person” by India and bans the use of dolphins as meat or even as a recreational animal. Do you think Japan should ban the practice of dolphin hunting forever?
[Image Via Wikimedia Commons]