Japan fishermen clash with surfers over 2007 dolphin hunt

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Whaling for dolphins also takes place in the Faroe Islands.
Image: Erik Christensen.

Japanese fishermen in Taiji, Japan clashed with surfers from Australia and the United States. The location where dolphins are culled was moved to a secluded cove this year to hide the activity from television crews and protesters.

After successfully defending the hunt, by using boat propellers and boat hooks against the group of surfers, who were joined by actress Hayden Panettiere, the fishermen have started their annual cull.

Whaling in Taiji usually yields 2,000 dolphins per year using the dolphin drive hunting method. The dolphins are diverted from their migration route by banging metal rods. As fear can affect the taste of the meat, after being speared and bludgeoned to death, they are left to hang for a day before being cut up. Television crews and campaigners opposed to the culling were prevented by fishermen and local police from filming these activities.

Although the practice of aquatic mammal hunting is condemned by many groups worldwide as well as within Japan, whaling is seen by those involved as a long-practiced cultural tradition that should be defended. As the demand for whale and dolphin meat for use in sushi has declined, the Government of Japan now has to financially subsidize the industry to support the local economy. Japan argues that whaling is still carried out for scientific reasons, to understand species population numbers. This claim is disputed by the scientific community outside of Japan as well as by environmentalists.