Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Marine conservationists claim Japanese fishermen are dumping dolphin corpses at sea

Fishermen dumping small dolphins so they can fill quota with more profitable specimens as annual Taiji dolphin hunt begins, says Sea Shepherd

Justin McCurry in Tokyo

Thursday 22 October 2015 23.01 BSTLast modified on Thursday 22 October 201523.12 BST

Marine conservationists have claimed that fishermen in the Japanese town of Taiji are dumping the corpses of small dolphins out at sea so that they can fill their annual quota with larger, more profitable specimens.

The conservation organisation Sea Shepherd released images on Thursday of a juvenile Risso’s dolphin it claimed had washed ashore in Taiji after being thrown overboard by local fishermen, who began their annual dolphin hunt last month.

The group said it believed the dolphin had been among a pod of 18 to 20 Risso’s dolphins driven to the shore and killed earlier this week. It claimed the dolphin had been discarded so it would not be counted as part of the fishermen’s annual quota.

David Hance, a Sea Shepherd campaigner, claimed that fishermen have been loading dead juvenile dolphins on to boats and concealing them with tarpaulin, before taking them out to the open sea and dumping them.

“These dolphins were slaughtered, just like their families, and should be counted in this season’s death toll,” Hance said.

Last year, Taiji’s fishermen caught 937 dolphins – well short of their quota of 1,971; this season’s quota for all species of dolphin caught off the town’s coast has been set at 1,873.

Sea Shepherd’s founder, Paul Watson, blamed the deaths on the lucrative international trade in live dolphins; the most attractive and profitable specimens are selected from the total haul, with the remainder slaughtered and sold in Japanfor their meat.

“Until there is no longer a demand for captive dolphins and whales around the world or until the world steps up and demands an end to the brutal hunts from the government of Japan, cetaceans will continue to die in Taiji,” Watson said.

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