Progress in the battle to protect dolphins from Taiji hunt!

Animals Australia

Animals Australia team

Last updated 28 May 2015

International outcry and years of sustained pressure from advocates paved the way for an Australian animal group to mount a David & Goliath-style court action. The result? Japan’s zoos & aquariums peak body will no longer acquire dolphins through Taiji’s notoriously cruel hunt!

Violent scenes of dolphins trapped by nets and thrashing in blood-red water have horrified caring people in Japan and around the world for years. The annual ‘hunt’ each September to March in the small Japanese coastal town of Taiji inspired an Academy Award-winning documentary in The Cove — and united tens of thousands of people in calling for an end to the cruelty.

Our friends at Australia for Dolphins decided to employ a fresh strategy in this long-running fight by heading to court in Switzerland earlier this year. They set out to hold to account the World Association of Zoos & Aquariums (WAZA) for failing to stop its Japanese member association (JAZA) from sourcing dolphins from the Taiji hunt. WAZA’s own code of ethics prohibits capturing animals through ‘drive hunting’, which is what happens at Taiji.

Dolphins are immensely social and intelligent animals; the trauma they endure at Taiji as their families are torn apart to be killed or taken for captive display is truly harrowing.

And this ambitious plan is already paying off for animals! After Australia for Dolphins launched its court case, WAZA suspended JAZA’s membership, and gave them 30 days to sever connections with the Taiji hunt — under threat of expulsion. Then momentous news arrived: WAZA aquariums in Japan agreed to no longer source dolphins captured in the Taiji hunt.

Dolphins captured at Taiji can sell for up to $100,000 for display in aquariums, which is as much as 10 times their ‘value’ if slaughtered for their meat. With the Japanese aquarium trade accounting for such a significant proportion of purchases, Australia For Dolphins says that this win could reduce demand for the Taiji hunt by up to 40 percent.

Countless dolphins will now be spared the terrible fate suffered by so many in Taiji — but the fight continues to end this cruelty altogether.

Happy dolphins

How you can help dolphins, too!

  • Join tens of thousands of kind people in calling for an end to the Taiji dolphin slaughter, once and for all.
  • Support Australia for Dolphins’ ongoing campaign for WAZA to enforce its code of ethics for all its members and affiliates.
  • Discover more about what aquariums and marine parks really mean for animals.