BOOKS: Japan’s Dolphin Drive Fisheries

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, December 2005:

Japan’s Dolphin Drive Fisheries: Propped up by the Aquarium Industry
& “Scientific Studies”
by Sakae Hemmi (Supervised by Eiji Fujiwara)

Elsa Nature Conservancy
(Box 2, Tsukuba Gakuen Post Office, Tsukuba 305-8691, Japan), 2005.
33 pages paperback, no price listed.

Sakae Hemmi and the Elsa Nature Conservancy of Japan
published this expose of “The reopened dolphin hunts at Futo on the
Izu Peninsula in Shiuoka Prefecture and the dolphin export plan of
Taiji Town in Wakayama Prefecture” just before the 2005 dolphin
drives were to begin, on the eve of an international day of protest
against the dolphin killing led by Ric O’Barry of One Voice.
Hemmi, campaigning against the Futo and Taiji dolphin
massacres since 1976, nearly nine years ago wrote A Report on the
1996 Dolphin Catch Quota Violation at Futo Fishing Harbor. That
report served chiefly to alert the international marine mammal
activist community to the longtime existence of committed opposition
to dolphin slaughter and commercial whaling within Japan.
Capturing dolphins for use in exhibition and
swim-with-dolphins attractions had already emerged as a lucrative
secondary market for the dolphin-killers, whose primary motive has
traditionally been attempting to exterminate competitors for fish.

Since then, Japanese coastal fishing has continued to
decline, due to too many years of humans catching far too many fish,
while capturing dolphins for sale has become a growth industry that
Hemmi, O’Barry, and others believe is actually now the major
impetus for the continued drives.
Futo and Taiji appeared to have acquired aggressive
competition from the Solomon Islands in July 2003, when as O’Barry
put it, “Canadian dolphin broker Chris Porter orchestrated the
largest recorded capture of dolphins for exploitation in
dolphinaria.” Corraling as many as 200 wild dolphins in sea pens,
Porter quickly sold 28 to resorts in Mexico, where at least seven
At last report, according to O’Barry, Porter still has 26
dolphins, while the fate of the rest he captured is unknown.
In January 2005 the World Society for the Protection of
Animals won a promise from the government of the Solomon Islands to
prohibit further sales of dolphins abroad.
In July 2005 WSPA and Fiji SPCA announced that Porter and
associates would not be allowed to develop a swim-with attraction in
the Solomon Islands.
In mid-November 2005, WSPA, One Voice, and Earth Island
Institute all claimed success in persuading the Solomon Islands to
block the reportedly scheduled export of the remaining dolphins to
the Bahamas by way of Fiji, Tahiti, and Mexico.
But for O’Barry in particular, who has kept annual vigils
against the Futo and Taiji massacres since 2003, the victories in
the Solomons were incomplete.
So long as demand for opportunities to swim with dolphins
continues to expand, unscrupulous resort developers operating in
underdeveloped nations with weak animal protection laws will continue
to buy dolphins wherever they can. The Futo and Taiji dolphin drives
will remain profitable until either global demand for captive
dolphins diminishes, or Hemmi and other Japanese marine mammal
activists succeed in reversing Japanese governmental encouragement of
whaling in all guises.

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