We’re making progress!
Fishermen in Taiji, Japan will be releasing captured dolphins this week in response to international outcry following the award-winning film “The Cove.” Some of the dolphins captured during the annual round up will be sold to aquariums, and while the rest are typically slaughtered in secret, the fishermen will be releasing them because of recent criticism.
An anonymous Taiji fisheries official said that it’s not clear whether the town will stop killing dolphins permanently. Taiji residents see the dolphin hunt as a tradition that is no different than killing other animals for food. However, the dolphins that are killed and sold as food, often as mislabeled whale meat, contain toxic levels of mercury and are potentially poisoning Japanese consumers.
“The Cove” which won the Best Documentary Audience Award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and over a dozen international film festival awards, exposes the Taiji dolphin slaughter and its consequences for Japanese public health. Louie Psihoyos, Director of the film, says, “The Cove is proof that one passionate person can make a difference and that together a few like-minded people can change the world. If the news is indeed true then this is a big victory for dolphins and the Japanese people.” Psihoyos has written to Japanese Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki asking him to confirm the status of the dolphin drives.
News of the suspension of the dolphin killings comes after immense public support and calls to end the practice from a number of celebrities, including Hayden Panettiere, Isabel Lucas, Ben Stiller, Zooey Deschanel, and Yoko Ono. Russell Simmons has also embraced the film by hosting a special screening of “The Cove” last night in New York to raise awareness.
The fishermen in Taiji captured about 100 bottlenose dolphins and 50 pilot whales on Wednesday, with plans to sell some of their catch to aquariums for up to $150,000 per animal. While Psihoyos is pleased with the decision to release the unsold dolphins, the news is a mixed success.
“I’m thrilled that these dolphins won’t be killed, resulting in less mercury-tainted meat on the market in Japan,” Psihoyos said, “but the ideal scenario would be one where wild dolphins are not captured at all. When wild intelligent and sentient animals are captured and forced to tricks for our casual amusement – it says more about our intelligence than theirs.”