“Questions are being asked about the origins of dolphins held in captive facilities as information is coming to light that suggests that some of the stars of the dolphin shows and swim-with-dolphins programmes appearing around the world are the survivors of a brutal selection process which often involves the slaughter of tens of other animals.
As many as twenty thousand dolphins are killed each year in Japan in hunts that are sanctioned by the Japanese government. Dolphins are killed mainly for meat, but in one kind of hunt – drive hunts – some live dolphins may be selected for aquariums and swim-with programmes.
As Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society representative, Niki Entrup explains: “”In the hunts in question fishermen drive the dolphins into a bay, separate the young and unmarked dolphins earmarked by marine parks, then butcher the rest in a manner that is brutal beyond description.””
This truly barbaric practice creates a convenient alliance of activity between fishermen and the captivity industry: without the financial incentive to capture live animals for sale to aquariums, there would be little benefit to the fishing industry. This fact is demonstrated by the number of cetaceans captured in drive fisheries, which has risen with the increase in the number of aquariums.
In a joint project between Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society and Blue Voice, Hardy Jones, Blue Voice’s Executive Director travelled in late March/early April 2001 through several villages on the east coast of Japan well-known for their dolphin killing to investigate the link between the drive hunt slaughter and the captivity industry.
Hardy Jones has been working for more than twenty years to stop the killing of dolphins in several fishing villages in Japan and explains: “”We’ve never been closer to stopping this atrocious behaviour. Killings of this kind reported on television and in the press create a huge international outcry against Japan. It is not the people of Japan who support this. It is a small part of the government bureaucracy, a few fishermen and aquariums which pay for captured dolphins who are behind this.””
You can help with our campaign to call for an end to the drive fishery in Japan. Please send polite letters to international associations representing captive facilities and individuals involved in the display of whales and dolphins (details below). Raise your concerns about the ongoing practice of drive fisheries and the involvement of the captive display industry in this practise.
Urge both associations to publically distance themselves from any further live captures of whales and dolphins.
World Zoo Organisation (WZO)
ISIS, 12101 Johnny Cake,
Apple Valley, MN 55124, USA.
International Marine Animal Trainer Association (IMATA)
1200 South Lake Shore Drive
Fax: + 1 312 939 2216
Please send any responses to your letters to Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society.”