Japan fishermen begin annual dolphin, whale hunt in Taiji


CONTROVERSIAL HUNT NEAR WAKAYAMA COVE — Fishermen in the town of Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture, hunt a pod of bottlenose dolphins off the western Japan prefecture. The hunt has been a target of criticisms by animal-rights activists after it was highlighted in “The Cove,” a film that won this year’s Oscar for best documentary. Kyodo News photo

SHINGU, Japan (Kyodo) — Japanese fishermen kicked off their annual hunt of dolphins, whales and other cetaceans on Sept. 2 in waters off the traditional whaling town of Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture.

A fleet of six whaling boats, which left the port at around 5:30 a.m., spotted a group of some 20 bottlenose dolphins and drove them into a fishing net set up in a bay in the area in western Japan.

The whalers will continue their hunt through next spring based on a limit on catches set by the Japanese government as the cetacean hunting at Taiji is not subject to controls by the International Whaling Commission.

No marked protest action against the hunting was staged in the town, which was the site of the Oscar-winning 2009 U.S. documentary “The Cove,” which took up the dolphin hunt and was shown in Japan earlier this year.

Meanwhile in Tokyo, Richard O’Barry, an activist working to free dolphins from captivity who appeared in “The Cove,” visited the U.S. Embassy on Sept. 2 and asked it to urge Japan to suspend dolphin hunting.

O’Barry handed to the embassy a set of signatures collected on the Internet from about 1.7 million people in 151 countries calling for a halt to dolphin hunting.

He told reporters that dolphin hunting is cruel and cannot be construed as culture.

O’Barry is in Japan with about 60 of his supporters to protest Taiji’s dolphin hunt.

“The Cove,” directed by Louie Psihoyos, critically depicts the dolphin hunt in Taiji, partly through graphic images taken by hidden cameras.

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